Trochleoplasty is a surgery for the Trochlear groove, a groove that helps the kneecap (the Patella) to stay in place. By this surgery a new and a deeper groove is created to normalize your anatomy.
If you are troubled by unstable kneecap or chronic anterior knee pain, you might also have an abnormal groove. This means that the groove for your kneecap is more shallow than normal or it can be even flat or convex. In short, when your knee groove is too shallow, this tends to make you kneecap unstable. It basically means that it might either go half the way out (called subluxation) or it even dislocate. The condition of having a shallow groove is called trochlear dysplasia (abnormal groove). In these cases were you groove is flat, this special operation might be the best option for you.
We know when your groove is shallow or flat, it is a result of too much bone in the center of the groove. This basically means that you have too little bony support for the kneecap.
The principle of the groove surgery is basically to deepen the groove. First is the cartilage released from the groove. Subsequently excessive bone is removed. This is followed by creation of an outer bony wall to support the patella. After that, when the groove has been deepened and re-shaped, the cartilage is re-located by means of a special blue or white bands. Those tapes or bands are later resolved. You can find picture examples by the images below. Certainly the groove operation is, from a mechanical point of view, the most anatomically correct operation to perform, if you have an abnormal groove.
For the past eleven years I have done more than 100 arthroscopic deepening trochleoplasty procedures. Before I invented this arthroscopic trochleoplasty, I used to do the groove procedure openly by the Bereiter method - on of several trochleoplasty types. I have stopped to do the open surgery. since it leaves a bigger scar, and in addition it is more painful and I believe that I can obtain better results by doing it arthroscopic in most situations.
By using the pinhole technique (arthroscopic), consequently the surgery becomes less traumatic for your knee , and therefore the rehabilitation is likely to become accelerated. To notice is the groove operation mostly done in combination with a reconstruction of the inner ligament for the kneecap (MPFL reconstruction).
Why is the groove surgery not enough? And why should you also have reconstructed the MFPL? (mediale patellofemoral ligament = inner ligament for kneecap). That is first of all because the MPFL is always torn when the kneecap dislocate. It does not heal normally and therefore it has to be reconstructed. Moreover it also so, that the trochlear groove, do not provide stability to your kneecap, before the kneecap reach the trochlea. Importantly this first happens after your knee is bend about 20 degrees. This means that the MPFL is needed to provides stability to your kneecap from full straightened knee and until your kneecap reach the new groove at 20 degrees of bending. Read more about MPFL reconstruction here
If you problem is chronic anterior knee pain as a consequence of a too shallow groove, and your kneecap is stable, likewise you do not need to have the ligament to stabilize the kneecap reconstructed - eventually read more in the page about anterior knee pain.
In case you would like a second opinion regarding your MRI or just your general knee situation, I do Skype consultations. The cost is 150 euro - email [email protected]
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Before (left) and after (right). The blue band dissolves after 6 weeks and is therefore only temporary until the cartilage has healed.
- "It is difficult to balance a tennis ball on a football"
Two different examples of how it looks in-site the knee 3 months after a groove surgery. If you notice has the cartilage healed very nicely and blue bands/tapes are dissolved.
Illustration showing the tapes in place after arthroscopic trochleoplasty
Nice small scars after combined arthroscopic trochleoplasty and MFPL reconstruction
Eight weeks after the surgery and the scars will become much more nice over time. I recommend you to use tape in the first month after surgery, since this will reduce traction in the scars. Hence you can avoid that the scars becomes wide.
Video arthroscopic trochleoplasty
Kenneth doing well one year after
That is a good question and some surgeon argue that it is not necessary. Nevertheless, sometimes I see patients having trochlear dysplasia and who have had an MPFL reconstruction only. Then after some years the kneecap starts to becomes loose again or they develop a painful knee. Therefore if you visit a surgeons, who do not do trochleoplasty surgery, and you do have this flatt groove. Most importantly try to get a second opinion in case this surgeon tells you that the surgery is rare, dangerous and complicated surgery since this is not correct.
Mikkel was the first patient who was operated upon with an Arthroscopic Trochleoplasty, and this was back in March 2008. Previously he had unsuccessful kneecap-stabilizing surgery and by doctor and physiotherapist he was told that he would never be able to sports again. Most noteworthy Mikkel had been troubled in both his knee since he was 8 years old and had never been able to run. Finally he underwent surgery on both his knees with the groove surgery at 29 years old. Meaning 21 years without running.
Today is Mikkel doing well in his knees and he is running and playing soccer. He claims that the only annoyance is the sound from the knees, when he climbs stairs. Go to YouTube and listen to his and other stories during the trochleoplasty gathering in 2014. Many thanks to Asker Blønd - my son - who created this video. Click here trochleoplasty gathering.or check this video
Generally the outcomes after groove surgery is very good, with less than 2 percent new dislocations. Consequently is the quality of life dramatically better. I have followed all my arthroscopic trochleoplasty patients for now more than 10 years and in average there as been improvements in all measured parameters and high satisfaction. Both the technique and the results of this operation, have been published in peer reviewed journals. Today I have presented "The Arthroscopic Deepening Trochleoplasty" technique in the United States, Japan, Netherlands, UK, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Germany, Austria, Portugal and China. Moreover has the surgery been adopted by other surgeons and is now performed in ten differnet countries world wide.
What about having a TT osteotomy instead of a groove surgery? The fact is that no surgeon know what exactly what is best since the science has not yet given a final answer to that question. However is there many indications that the groove surgery gives better results. In addition we know that trochleoplasty surgery normalize the anatomy. Moreover does we know that patients, who have had TT surgery after a decade are having declining results. The first trochleoplasty patients I operated more than 13 years ago are still doing fine. So based on this and my clinical experience by doing both many tibial tubercle osteotomies an trochleoplasty surgeries, I prefer to do trochleoplasty if you are having severe trochlear dysplasia.
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