Patellofemoral instability is a significant problem for many young, active patients. MPFL reconstruction has been established as an effective procedure to restore function in many patients; however, the timing return to sport following this procedure is variable among patients. There is a current lack of research comparing time to return to sport based on the chronicity of patellar instability.
This study is intended to determine whether those patients with a longer history of patellar instability symptoms take longer to return to sport following MPFL reconstruction.
Patients who underwent MPFL reconstruction at our institution between 2007 and 2016 were included in this study. Patients were placed in the chronic group if they had their first patellar dislocation at least one year prior to surgery and in the acute group if surgery was performed within one year of their first patellar dislocation. Return to sport time was defined as the time from surgery to the time the physician cleared the patient for either general sports or a specific sport.
202 patients (127 females and 75 males) were treated with isolated MPFL reconstruction during the study period. The mean patient age was 23.6 ± 1.2 years (range 13.4–57.3 years). Of these, 83 patients (41%) had documentation of being cleared for sport. Patients with chronic patellofemoral instability (n=54) on average were cleared to return to sport in 5.9 ± 0.6 months) and patients with acute patellofemoral instability (n=29) were cleared to return to sport in 7.2 ± 1.0 months (p = 0.03).
Patients with chronic instability were cleared to return to sport slightly sooner than patients with acute instability. This information could help surgeons set more accurate recovery expectations for patients considering undergoing this procedure. Follow-up studies are needed to identify other factors affecting time to return to sport.