Fractures of the Patella


The patella or kneecap is a small bone present in the front of the knee where the thigh bone meets the shinbone. It provides protection to the knee and attachment to muscles in the front of the thigh. An injury to the knee can result in a break or fracture of the patella.

The patella may break into two pieces or several pieces depending on the nature of the injury.


Patellar fractures may be caused by:

  • A direct fall onto the knee
  • A head-on vehicular collision causing the knee to hit against the dashboard
  • Or even sudden, severe contraction of the thigh muscles.


A patella fracture may be displaced due to the pull fo the muscles or can be multi-fragmentary , when the bone shatters into more than two fragments.

Signs and Symptoms

The common symptoms of a patellar fracture include:

  • Swelling and pain in the front of the knee
  • Bruising
  • Inability to straighten or extend the knee
  • Difficulty walking


This will involve a review of the history and mechanism of injury, as well as a physical examination of the knee. X-rays are required to confirm diagnosis and visualize the fracture fragments.


Treatment for a displaced patella fracture is usually surgical . Surgery involves repositioning the fracture fragments together and holding them in positon with hardware such as wires, pins or screws