Scientific Article   |    
Soft-Tissue Anatomy Anterior to the Human Patella
Scott F. Dye, MD; Dante Campagna-Pinto, MD; Christopher C. Dye; Steven Shifflett, MD; Thomas Eiman, MD
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Investigation performed at the California Pacific Medical Center, Davies Campus, San Francisco, California

Scott F. Dye, MD
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California San Francisco, 45 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. E-mail address: sfdyemd@aol.com

Dante Campagna-Pinto, MD
Thomas Eiman, MD
Department of Pathology, California Pacific Medical Center, Davies Campus, Castro and Duboce Streets, San Francisco, CA 94114

Christopher C. Dye
4 Eton Way, Mill Valley, CA 94941

Steven Shifflett, MD
Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Helena Hospital, 650 Sanitarium Road, Deer Park, CA 94576

The authors did not receive grants or outside funding in support of their research or preparation of this manuscript. They did not receive payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, educational institution, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors are affiliated or associated.

J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2003 Jun 01;85(6):1012-1017
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Background: The purpose of this anatomic study is to report the results of dissections of the soft-tissue structures anterior to the human patella.

Methods: Sixty-one fresh or fresh-frozen and thawed human cadaver knees were dissected for this study. Thirty-five of the knees were from men, and twenty-six were from women. The soft-tissue structures anterior to the patella were dissected layer by layer and documented photographically.

Results: Fifty-seven (93%) of the sixty-one knees were found to have a trilaminar arrangement of fibrous soft-tissue structures anterior to the patella from superficial to deep. Those structures included a transversely oriented fascia, an obliquely oriented aponeurosis, and the longitudinally oriented fibers of the rectus femoris tendon. Between the soft-tissue fibrous layers, there were three prepatellar spaces that can be termed bursae: a prepatellar subcutaneous bursa, a prepatellar subfascial bursa, and a prepatellar subaponeurotic bursa. Four of the sixty-one knees lacked an intermediate oblique aponeurotic layer. In none of the sixty-one knees was there a potential bursal space between the rectus femoris tendon and the anterior patellar bone.

Conclusions: These anatomic findings are at variance with descriptions in standard anatomic orthopaedic texts and periodical literature, including the Nomina Anatomica . None of those texts accurately describe the presence of a prepatellar aponeurotic layer or a prepatellar subaponeurotic bursa. Also, in contradistinction to descriptions in the anatomic literature, including the Nomina Anatomica, no prepatellar subtendinous bursa was found in any of the sixty-one knees.

Clinical Relevance: With improved knowledge of the prepatellar soft-tissue anatomy, orthopaedic surgeons should be able to more readily identify the extant structures and to better protect and repair them during surgery. This knowledge should also assist both orthopaedic surgeons and radiologists in the interpretation of soft-tissue imaging of the knee.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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