Methods to Determine the Volume of Infrapatellar Fat Pad as an Indicator of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear

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Anterior knee pain is a major problem among adolescents and young adults especially those who participates in sports. The most common pathogenesis of anterior knee pain can arise from compression and shear forces in the patellofemoral joint. It is also caused by impingement of infrapatellar fat pad. Fat pad impingement can occur when the fat pad becomes swollen and inflamed due to a direct blow or chronic irritation. As a result, the bottom tip (or inferior pole) of the patella can pinch the fat pad. One of the many causes of swollen fat pad can be secondary to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The aim of this study was to compare the infrapatellar fat pad volume in patients with acute ACL injury and a group of age-, gender-, and activity- matched controls with intact ligament. Axial magnetic resonance (MR) images have been performed on 32 patients with torn ACL and 40 control patients. The volume of the fat pad was measured digitally from MR image by using a 3d Reconstruction software, ellipsoidal approximation, and a MATLAB code. The results were compared between patients with torn ACL and control group. Patients with a torn ACL had a significantly larger fat pad than the controls (P=0.01). There was no significant difference between the methods used to measure the infrapatellar fat pad volume (P=0.83-0.87). Thus, lesions of the infrapatellar fat pad is often associated with ACL injury.