American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting
Perspective from Seth L. Sherman, MD
July 25, 2019
2 min read

Patellar tendon thickness seen as strong predictor for tears

Perspective from Seth L. Sherman, MD
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BOSTON — According to a presentation at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, partial patellar tendon tears are located either posterior or posteromedial in the proximal patellar tenon. Patellar tendon thickness was the most sensitive metric for partial patellar tendon tears, with thickness of more than 8.8 mm being a strong predictor of surgical intervention.

“Make sure you look for [partial patellar tendon tears] when you have an athlete who seems to have jumper’s knee that just doesn’t seem to get better,” Charles A. Popkin, MD, said during his presentation.

Popkin and colleagues identified 112 athletic patients who underwent knee MRI. Of these patients, 85 patients had history and physical examination that showed recalcitrant patellar tendonitis or had a suspicion of a partial patellar tendon tear. There were 27 patients who underwent MRI for other pathology and were age-matched controls. Patellar tendon tear size, thickness and location in relation to the entire patellar tendon were assessed with MRI scans. The tendon size and tear distributions were evaluated with descriptive statistics. Pearson correlation, univariate and logistic regressions were used to find associations between tendon geometry and tear sizes. Patient-reported outcomes and tear geometry measures were compared with t-tests.

Results showed 56 patients had partial patellar tendon tears. Investigators noted 91% of the partial patellar tendon tears involved the posterior and posteromedial regions of the proximal patellar tendon. Patients with partial patellar tendon tears had mean tendon thickness of 10 mm vs 5.9 mm in athletic patients without partial patellar tendon tears. There was a significant association between patellar tendon thickness and partial patellar tendon tear.

According to logistic regression analysis results, patients with patellar tendon thickness of more than 7.45 mm had a greater chance of partial patellar tendon tears. There were 11 patients who underwent surgery for partial patellar tendon tears. All of these patients had tear sizes on axial images greater than 50% of tendon thickness. A patellar tendon thickness of greater than 8.8 mm and a tear size greater than 55% was associated with surgical intervention. There were five patients who underwent surgery and were not able to return to sport at the same level. None of the patients had surgery for tear thickness of less than 4.5 mm. – by Monica Jaramillo



Golman M, et al. Abstract 63. Presented at: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting; July 11-14, 2019; Boston.


Disclosure: Popkin reports no relevant financial disclosures.