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Chondromalacia patellae

The term chondromalacia patellae refers to a degenerative condition of the articular surface of the patella that progresses from softening, through fibrillar changes and full-thickness cracks, to exposed subchondral bone.

Chondromalacia patella can only be diagnosed at the time of surgery. It is graded from I to IV, according to the Outerbridge classification system.

For many years, chondromalacia patellae was used as a catch-all term for patients with anterior knee pain. The current accepted diagnosis is anterior knee pain.

Differential diagnosis:

Chondromalacia patellae

Symptomatic plica of the knee

Patellar malalignment

Fat pad syndrome (Hoffa’s disease)

Patellar tracking abnormality

Bursitis, infrapatellar/prepatellar

Tendinitis quadriceps/patellae

Pes anserine bursitis

Tight iliotibial band

Retinacular neuroma

Meniscal pathology

Tight lateral retinaculum

Painful bipartite patella

Postsurgical neuroma

Blunt trauma, occult fracture

Referred pain from hip

Osteochondritis dissecans (patella)

Radicular pain from lumbosacral spine

Sinding–Larsen–Johansson syndrome


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