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Open Access Research article

The effects of thermal capsulorrhaphy of medial parapatellar capsule on patellar lateral displacement

Naiquan Zheng1*, Brent R Davis2 and James R Andrews2

Author Affiliations

1 University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA

2 American Sports Medicine Institute, Birmingham, AL, USA

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2008, 3:45  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-3-45

Published: 30 September 2008



The effectiveness of thermal shrinkage on the medial parapatellar capsule for treating recurrent patellar dislocation is controversial. One of reasons why it is still controversial is that the effectiveness is still qualitatively measured. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively determine the immediate effectiveness of the medial parapatellar capsule shrinkage as in clinical setting.


Nine cadaveric knees were used to collect lateral displacement data before and after medial shrinkage or open surgery. The force and displacement were recorded while a physician pressed the patella from the medial side to mimic the physical exam used in clinic. Ten healthy subjects were used to test the feasibility of the technique on patients and establish normal range of lateral displacement of the patella under a medial force. The force applied, the resulting displacement and the ratio of force over displacement were compared among four data groups (normal knees, cadaveric knees before medial shrinkage, after shrinkage and after open surgery).


Displacements of the cadaveric knees both before and after thermal modification were similar to normal subjects, and the applied forces were significantly higher. No significant differences were found between before and after thermal modification groups. After open surgery, displacements were reduced significantly while applied forces were significantly higher.


No immediate difference was found after thermal shrinkage of the medial parapatellar capsule. Open surgery immediately improved of the lateral stiffness of the knee capsule.