Atraumatic osteonecrosis of the patella

Keith M. Baumgarten, Michael A. Mont, Aiman Rifai, David S. Hungerford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Atraumatic secondary osteonecrosis of the patella is a rare entity and has been reported in only several case reports. The purpose of this study was to define the clinical and radiographic characteristics and outcome of this disease. Osteonecrosis of the patella was found in 25 knees in 19 patients. The mean age was 42 years (range, 21-63 years). Eighteen (95%) patients had greater than 2 g of lifetime corticosteroid exposure, and six (32%) patients had systemic lupus erythematosus. Osteonecrosis was found in the superior pole of the patella in all 23 knees (17 patients) that had magnetic resonance imaging. Osteonecrosis was apparent on plain radiographs in five knees (20%) in four patients, and only one knee (4%) in one patient had collapse of the posterior articulating surface of the patella. One (4%) patient presented with anterior knee pain localized to the patella. At a mean followup of 4 years (range, 2-18 years), none of the patients had an intervention that focused on treating the patellar lesion. Patellar osteonecrosis is characterized by patients with coincident lesions of the distal femur and the proximal tibia and lesions localized to the superior pole of the patella. It is a nonprogressive disease that does not warrant surgical exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-196
Number of pages6
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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