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This is a break of the patella. That's the small bone in the front of your knee often called the "kneecap." The kneecap protects the joint and helps link your thigh muscles to your lower leg. Knee fractures are serious injuries and often require surgery to heal. Over the long term, they may cause arthritis in the knee.

Because your kneecap (patella) acts like a shield for your knee joint, it can easily be broken. Falling directly onto your knee, for example, is a common cause of patellar fractures. Patellar (knee) fractures vary. The kneecap can crack just slightly, or can be broken into many pieces. A break in the kneecap can happen at the top, center, or lower part of the bone. Sometimes, fractures occur in more than one area of the kneecap. The type of fracture you sustain dictates the type of treatment you need.

OrthoConnecticut’s team of board certified, fellowship trained knee specialists have a great deal of experience treating and repairing knee fractures. We offer state-of-the art treatment and the convenience of both surgery and follow-up care in a local setting.


Non-Surgical Knee Fracture Treatment

A stable fracture is a non-displaced fracture, where the broken ends of the bones meet up correctly and are aligned. This type of fracture usually does not require surgery, as the bones usually stay in place during healing. Casts or splints may be used to keep the knee straight.

Surgical Treatment for Knee Fractures

If the patella has been pulled apart, shattered or significantly displaced, you will most likely need surgery. Fractured patella bones that are not close together often have difficulty healing or may not heal. The thigh muscles that attach to the top of the patella are very strong and can pull the broken pieces out of place during healing.

Types of Knee Fractures

The type of procedure performed often depends on the type of fracture you have. Before the surgery, your doctor will discuss your procedure with you, as well as any potential complications.

Transverse fracture

These two-part fractures are most often fixed in place using pins and wires and a "figure-of-eight" configuration tension band. The figure-of-eight band presses the two pieces together. This procedure is best for treating fractures that are located near the center of the patella. Another approach to a transverse fracture is to secure the bones using small screws, wires, and pins. In many cases, these wires and pins will need to be removed about a year or two after the surgery.

Comminuted fracture

In some cases, either the top or the bottom of the patella can be broken into several small pieces. This type of fracture happens when the kneecap is pulled apart from the injury, then crushed from falling on it. Because the bone fragments are too small to be fixed back into place, they will be removed. The surgeon will attach the loose tendon to the remaining patellar bone.

If the knee cap is broken in many pieces at its center (and they are separated), your surgeon may use a combination of wires and screws to fix it. Removing small portions of the kneecap may also have good results. Complete removal of the kneecap is a last resort in treating a comminuted fracture.

The animation content provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any specific questions you may have regarding a medical condition or procedure.