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Arthroscopic posteromedial capsular release for knee flexion contractures


Extension deficits of the knee can cause functional limitations in patients after knee surgery or injury. Most frequently, they are treated with manipulations, arthroscopic anterior compartment debridements, or open posterior capsular releases once nonoperative treatment fails. However, an arthroscopic posteromedial capsular release to manage flexion deficits has yet to be studied comprehensively. Arthroscopic posteromedial capsular releases of the knee can result in improved knee motion postoperatively. An arthroscopic posteromedial capsular release involves sectioning the posteromedial capsule at its meniscofemoral portion, midway between its femoral attachment and its posterior horn medial meniscus junction. A review of 15 patients who underwent this operation was performed. Passive knee extension and flexion was measured in patients in the supine position using a goniometer at preoperative evaluations, under anesthesia prior to and immediately after the posteromedial capsular release, and at postoperative follow-up evaluations. The average time from the arthroscopic posteromedial capsular release to the final postoperative follow-up was 24.1 months. Preoperative knee extension averaged 14.7° in 15 patients. The average immediate postoperative knee extension averaged −0.9°. At the final postoperative follow-up, knee extension averaged 0.7°. Overall knee motion improved from an average arc of motion of 101.6°–129.4°. Arthroscopic posteromedial capsular releases and the concurrent postoperative rehabilitation program were effective in the treatment of knee extension deficits. The encouraging results of this study compare well to data presented in open posterior capsular release studies. We believe that arthroscopic posteromedial capsular releases are an effective means to address symptomatic knee extension deficits.

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Correspondence to Robert F. LaPrade.

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LaPrade, R.F., Pedtke, A.C. & Roethle, S.T. Arthroscopic posteromedial capsular release for knee flexion contractures. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthr 16, 469–475 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-008-0496-z

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  • Arthroscopic posteromedial capsular release
  • Flexion contracture
  • Arthrofibrosis