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What is the medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL)?

The MPFL is a ligament along the inside of your patella that helps to stabilizes the patella (kneecap).  When a patellar dislocation occurs, it is torn or irreversibly stretched out. The MPFL works as a check reign to help your patella track within the trochlear groove during knee range of motion.

How is the MPFL damaged?

When the patella dislocates, it stretches or tears the MPFL, which is on the inside of the knee. Just because your MPFL has torn does not mean you necessarily need surgery. If this is your first patella dislocation you may not need surgery depending on how injured your knee is. Anyone who has 2 or more dislocations is indicated for surgery.

How will my MPFL be reconstructed?

This procedure is done through a small incision made at the inside portion of the knee. The injured ligament will be replaced with a graft, usually a hamstring tendon from the same leg or a cadaver allograft. The graft is attached to the patella and the femur at the locations where the original ligament previously attached. This can be done in a variety of different ways either with small anchors, screws or suspensory fixation.

How long will I stay in the hospital?

This surgery is typically done as ambulatory surgery, meaning you will go home the same day of surgery.

What are the possible risks and complications of surgery?

While very rare, as with any surgery there is a risk of DVT, nerve damage, and postoperative infection. Recurrent or persistent instability can also occur as well as post operative stiffness or inability to regain your full knee range of motion.

When can I drive?

You may not drive while taking pain medication.  In addition, if it is your right knee that had surgery, you will not be able to drive for approximately 6 weeks after surgery or until the brace is removed. You must have approval from your surgeon before starting to drive after surgery.

When can I resume jogging?

You will not resume jogging until cleared by your physician.  This typically is around 4-6 months after surgery.  You will be allowed to begin biking without resistance once you have adequate range of motion and will begin this with your physical therapist.  Once adequate quad strength is demonstrated you will transition to the Elliptical, then running is the next step after that. It is essential that you have restoration of your strength before attempting to run in order to not cause damage to other areas of your knee.

When can I return to my sport?

There are many factors in determining when you will be ready to return to sport after surgery.  Most patients are able to return around 6 months after surgery but it is essential that you are cleared by your surgeon and physical therapist before returning. Please see Physical Therapy for more information on this condition.