Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 604–610 | Cite as

The reversed dynamic patellar apprehension test mimics anatomical complexity in lateral patellar instability

  • Felix Zimmermann
  • Michael C. Liebensteiner
  • Peter BalcarekEmail author



To develop a dynamic physical examination test that functionally simulates actual patellar instability events and that mimics the range of patellar stabilizer insufficiency in an individual patient.


Seventy-eight consecutive patients (male/female 35/43; mean age 22 ± 7 years) with recurrent lateral patellar instability and 35 controls (male/female 16/19; mean age 31 ± 14 years) were prospectively evaluated using the reversed dynamic patellar apprehension test (ReDPAT). Anatomical predisposition was assessed according to Dejour’s classification of trochlear dysplasia, tibial tuberosity–trochlear groove distance, tibial tuberosity–posterior cruciate ligament distance, patellar height, and varus/valgus malalignment.


The study group had an average of 3.4 ± 1.0 (1–6) anatomical risk factors for lateral patellar dislocation. Severe trochlear dysplasia (84%) and patella alta (49%) were the most common. Test sensitivity and specificity was 93.7% (95% CI 0.8584–0.9791) and 88.2% (95% CI 0.7255–0.9670), respectively. The positive predictive value reached 94.9% (95% CI 0.8739–0.9859) and the negative predictive value was 85.7% (95% CI 0.6974–0.9519). The ReDPAT results became positive at a mean knee flexion angle of 58° ± 17° (20°–90°). Knee flexion angle correlated significantly with the severity of trochlear dysplasia (p = 0.018), valgus deformity (p = 0.011), and the total number of anatomical risk factors (p = 0.02).


This study introduced the reversed dynamic patellar apprehension test as a reliable clinical examination tool in the assessment of lateral patellar instability. The results of this study indicate that the degree of knee joint flexion at which the provocative sense of apprehension becomes positive correlates with severity of trochlear dysplasia, valgus deformity and the total number of anatomical risk factors for patellar instability. This test indicates the patient-specific end of stable patellar tracking and the beginning of patellar stabilizer insufficiency. Therefore, this test might be helpful in deciding for or against a bony procedure in the treatment of patellar dislocation.

Level of evidence



Patellar instability Dynamic apprehension test Risk factors 



This study was awarded the first poster prize for “Clinical Research” at the 35th AGA Congress 2018, Linz, Austria.


No external funding was used.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Felix Zimmermann, Michael C Liebensteiner and Peter Balcarek declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study was approved by the ethics committee of the medical council Baden-Württemberg, Germany (F-2018-004).


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Copyright information

© European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy (ESSKA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felix Zimmermann
    • 1
  • Michael C. Liebensteiner
    • 2
  • Peter Balcarek
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Arcus SportklinikPforzheimGermany
  2. 2.Department of OrthopaedicsMedical University of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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