Infrapatellar Fat Pad Disruption: a Radiographic Sign of Patellar Tendon Rupture

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Dr. Kingsley R. Chin Medical Paper

Scientific Paper

Chin KR1Sodl JF.

Interested medical professionals can read through the full paper, also published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, here.


After knee trauma, radiographs showing patella alta supercede other signs that suggest patellar tendon rupture. However, without patella alta the diagnosis may be missed. A standard lateral radiograph with the knee flexed showed the infrapatellar fat pad as a dark band with a smooth contour. Our pilot study identified a disruption of the fat pad contour as a radiographic sign of tendon rupture. Two blinded reviewers independently analyzed randomly selected lateral radiographs of the knees of 14 patients with knee injuries. Seven patients had confirmed ruptures diagnosed at surgery, and the other patients had different diagnoses. There were 12 men and two women with an average age of 49 years (range, 20-81 years). One observer detected five of the seven disrupted tendons and six of the seven intact tendons. The other observer detected six of the seven disrupted tendons and all seven intact tendons. Disruption in the contour of the infrapatellar fat pad on routine lateral view radiographs was a reasonably reliable sign of patellar tendon rupture. Diagnostic accuracy should increase when used with the patient’s history, physical examination, and other radiographic signs. Absence of this sign should not supersede other suggestive signs of patella tendon rupture.

Level of Evidence

Diagnostic study, Level II (development of diagnostic criteria on consecutive patients–with universally applied reference “gold” standard). See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.


About Author Dr. Kingsley R. Chin

Postoperative Cervical Haematoma Complicated by Ipsilateral Carotid Thrombosis and Aphasia After Anterior Cervical Fusion: a Case Report
Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, founder of philosophy and practice of The LES Society and The LESS Institute

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin is a board-certified Harvard-trained orthopedic spine surgeon and professor with copious business and information technology experience. He sees a niche opportunity where medicine, business and information technology meet and is uniquely experienced at the intersection of these three professions. He currently serves as Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences at the Charles E. Schmidt School of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University and Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University and has experience as Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Visiting Professor at the University of the West Indies.

Learn more about Dr. Chin here and connect via LinkedIn.

About Less Exposure Surgery

Less Exposure Surgery (LES) is based on a new philosophy of performing surgery, leading the charge to prove through bench and clinical outcomes research that LES treatment options are the best solutions – to lowering the cost of healthcare, improving outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction. Learn more at

The LES Society philosophy: “Tailor treatment to the individual aiding in the quickest recovery and return to a pain-free lifestyle, using LES® techniques that lessen exposure, preserve unoffending anatomy and utilize new technologies which are safe, easy to adopt and reproducible. These LES®techniques lessen blood loss, surgical time and exposure to radiation and can be safely performed in an outpatient center. Less is more.” – Kingsley R. Chin, MD

About The LESS Institute

The LESS Institute is the world leader center of excellence in Less Exposure Surgery. Our safe, effective outpatient treatments help patients recover quickly, avoid expensive hospital stays and return home to their family the same day. Watch our patient stories, follow us on Facebook and visit to learn more.

About SpineFrontier

The above study utilized LES Technology from SpineFrontier – leading provider of LES Technologies and instruments – offering surgeons and patients superior technology and services.

Scientific Paper Author and Citation Details


Chin KR1Sodl JF.

Author information

  1. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

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