The surgical fixation of a patella fracture with hardware.
A patella fracture is a break in the kneecap, the small bone at the front of the knee that acts as a shield to the knee joint. Patella fractures are evaluated by your doctor to determine if they are nondisplaced, stable fractures or if they are displaced, unstable fractures. If the fracture is stable and the articular side of the patella (the bottom part of the kneecap that glides on the femur) stays in anatomic alignment, a conservative treatment plan can be utilized. This type of treatment includes the use of a brace or cast to immobilize the knee, allowing the fracture to heal appropriately. This process takes approximately six to eight weeks before rehabilitation therapy can begin. If a patella fracture is displaced, comminuted (in many pieces) or an open fracture, it is important to surgically realign the smooth articular surface. Patella fracture open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) surgery is performed in a hospital setting. The type of fracture will dictate the type of surgery performed. If the fracture is a simple two-piece fracture, your surgeon may use a few long screws and wire or a thick suture in a cerclage fashion. If the fracture is comminuted, a more intricate surgical approach may be necessary. Patella ORIFs require a post-operative period of strict immobilization and weight bearing restrictions. Once the fracture has healed, your doctor will begin to gradually allow the knee to bend. Because the knee was immobilized for an extended period of time, it is not uncommon for patients to experience weakness and stiffness during this stage. A physical therapy program will be prescribed to help decrease stiffness, improve motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee. The rehabilitation process can take three to six months to return to normal activities, and it can take longer for more severe fractures.
As our patient, you will have an in-depth consultation with one of our doctors. We will create an individualized treatment plan together, tailored to your problem and lifestyle. Our doctors prefer non-invasive treatments whenever possible, including physical therapy and/or injections. If your problem ultimately does require surgery, our doctors prefer the least invasive surgical techniques possible. Our goals are the same as yours: to get you back to living your best life, pain free.