Background: Gait dysfunction associated with patella alta (PA) in subjects with cerebral palsy (CP) has been presumed but not objectively established clinically or through biomechanical modeling. It is hypothesized that PA is associated with increasing level of motor impairment, increasing age, obesity, and worse stance phase knee kinematics and kinetics in children with CP. Methods: Retrospective case series of 297 subjects with CP studied in our Motion Analysis Center. Data analyzed included patient demographics (age, body mass index, CP classification), patella height (Koshino-Sugimoto Index), and knee kinematics and kinetics. Results: PA was present in 180 of 297 subjects (61%), in 68 of the 146 (47%) with unilateral CP, and 112 of 151 subjects (74%) with bilateral CP. For unilateral CP, the prevalence of PA was not significantly different between Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) I and II (P=0.357). For bilateral CP, the prevalence of PA in GMFCS III was significantly greater than in GMFCS I and II (P=0.02). Regression analysis showed a significant trend between increasing age and PA in unilateral and bilateral groups (P<0.001 and 0.001, respectively). The prevalence of PA was not significantly different across body mass index categories for either unilateral or bilateral groups. There were only 2 of 10 significant correlations between PA and gait parameters for subjects with unilateral CP functioning at the GMFCS I and II levels. There were 8 of 12 significant correlations between PA and gait parameters for subjects with bilateral CP functioning at the GMFCS I, II, and III levels. Conclusions: PA is common in ambulatory children with CP across topographic types and motor functional levels. PA is well tolerated with respect to gait dysfunction in unilateral CP, but may contribute to crouch gait in bilateral CP. Gait dysfunction cannot be inferred from the radiographic assessment of patellar height, and radiographic evidence of PA by itself does not justify surgical correction with patellar tendon advancement or shortening. Level of Evidence: Level III - prognostic, retrospective series.
- cerebral palsy
- patella alta
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine