Epidemiology of Patellar Dislocations in the United States From 2001 to 2020: Results of a National Emergency Department Database

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Recent studies have shown an increasing incidence of patellar dislocations among children and adolescents. Updated, population-based studies of all patellar dislocations in the United States (US), however, are lacking. This study investigated recent trends in injury rates and demographics among patients sustaining patellar dislocations in the US from 2001 to 2020.


This descriptive epidemiologic study retrospectively analyzed the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database to identify cases of acute patellar dislocations presenting to US Emergency Departments (EDs) from 2001 to 2020. Annual, overall, and age-adjusted incidence rates (IRs, expressed per 100,000 at-risk person-years) and additional patient/injury characteristics were analyzed. Average annual percent change (AAPC) estimates are presented to indicate the magnitude/direction of trends in annual injury rates.


An estimated total of 159,529 patellar dislocations occurred over the study period for an overall IR of 2.58 (95% CI = 2.04–3.12). Accounting for population growth, the overall annual incidence increased significantly from 2.61 in 2001 to 3.0 in 2020 (AAPC = 2.8, p < 0.0001). When considering sex and age, statistically significant increases in annual IRs were observed among males aged 10–19 years (AAPC = 3.8, p < 0.0001), females aged 10–19 years (AAPC = 5.3, p < 0.0001), and females aged 20–29 years (AAPC = 3.5, p = 0.0152), while no significant changes were observed in any other age groups. Two-thirds of patellar dislocations involved sports-related injury mechanisms. The annual incidence of both sports-related and non-sports-related injuries increased significantly over the study period (sports-related: AAPC = 2.6, p = 0.0001; non-sports-related: AAPC = 3.4, p = 0.0001). Athletic patellar dislocations occurred most commonly in basketball and dance.


The number of patients sustaining patellar dislocations is increasing in the US. Similar increasing trends were observed in both males and females aged 10–19 years, whereas injury rates increased in the third decade only among females. A large percentage of injuries occur during athletic activity, but both sports- and non-sports-related patellar dislocations are on the rise.



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