Patellofemoral pain is a common and debilitating disorder. Elevated cartilage stress of the patellofemoral joint is hypothesized to play a role in the onset of pain. Estimating cartilage stress requires accurate measurements of contact area. The purpose of this study was to estimate patellofemoral joint contact areas in a group of healthy, pain-free subjects during upright, weight-bearing conditions. Sixteen subjects (8 female, 8 male) were scanned in a GE Signa SP open configuration MRI scanner, which allowed subjects to stand or squat while reclining 25 degrees from vertical with the knee positioned at 0 degrees , 30 degrees , or 60 degrees of flexion. A custom-built backrest enabled subjects to be scanned without motion artifact in both weight-bearing (0.45 body weight per leg) and reduced loading conditions ('unloaded' at 0.15 body weight) at each knee flexion posture. Male subjects displayed mean unloaded patellofemoral joint contact areas of 210, 414, and 520 mm(2) at 0 degrees , 30 degrees and 60 degrees of knee flexion, respectively. Female subjects' unloaded contact areas were similar at full extension (0 degrees ), but significantly smaller at 30 degrees and 60 degrees (p<0.01), with mean values of 269 and 396 mm(2), respectively. When normalized by patellar dimensions (heightxwidth), contact areas were not different between genders. Under weight-bearing conditions, contact areas increased by an average of 24% (p<0.05). This study highlights the differences in patellofemoral joint contact area between gender, knee flexion postures, and physiologic loading conditions.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.orthres.2004.08.003
View details for Web of Science ID 000227567100017
View details for PubMedID 15734247