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Hoffa's Fat Pad
Plicae are some of the normal structures of the knee joint cavity Dupont JY. Synovial plicae of the knee. Clin Sports Med. 1997;16(1):87-122. They are folds of the capsule of the joint that surround the patella
(kneecap). The pleats are variable in size and structure between individuals. There
are at least 4 in most knees. The plicae are the "meniscus" of the patellofemoral joint. In this knee MRI the medial plica is indicated by an arrow on the inside of the left knee.
The red arrow points to the tongue of the fat pad (yellow) that catches between the condyle of the femur and the tibia. The condition, from chronic impingement then scarring of the fat pad, was first reported by German surgeon Albert Hoffa in 1904 (Albert Hoffa, 1859-1907) so it is odd that it has taken so long to recognise it as a common and genuine condition in athletes. Emad Y and Ragab Y.
Arthroscopy of the knee is an operation on a joint which is done by a minimally invasive technique.
A narrow lens, on the back of which is a video camera, is
inserted into the joint to allow examination of the inside.
By using specially designed probes and instruments, the surgeon can also do some treatments to the inside of the knee joint.
Why should it be done? It would only be done if you have persistent symptoms from your knee such as pain, locking, swelling or giving way. These symptoms are indicative of ongoing impingement and wear in the knee. Look at the video to the right of a lateral meniscal tear missed by an MRI scan. There has been little wear and tear of the surface of the joint from the hard gristle of the unstable meniscal tear because it was dealt with promptly by keyhole surgery. Compare it to the arthroscopy video above it where time has elapsed between onset and treatment. It is easy to see why a neglected or missed meniscal tear is the most common cause of unicompartmental osteoarthritis.
Arthroscopy of the knee is usually done after an injury which is failing to settle at 6 weeks with conservative treatments such as RICE, knee supports and physiotherapy and where there is evidence of damage to the ligaments, cartilages, lining or surfaces of the knee joint. If it is done for an injury, a MRI scan of the knee will be done first to alert the surgeon to what may be found inside the joint before the procedure so that he can properly advise on the prognosis. Read this file if Mr Hardy has offered you an arthroscopy of the knee...
The protocol to the left is for a W8200 - Arthroscopy and Partial Menesectomy.
The protocol to the right is for a W8200, W8300 - Arthroscopy, Partial Menesectomy and Chondroplasty.
The protocol to the left is for a W8230 - Arthroscopy and Meniscal Repair.
The protocol to the right is for a W7420 - Arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction.
The protocol to the left is for a W8150, W3110, - Arthrotomy, Mosaicplasty and chondral fixation..
A tear of one of the plicae can result in the pain of impingement which is worse climbing or descending stairs.The least common is the lateral patella plica. The most common is the medial patella plica. The medial and lateral patella plicae have a load sharing function for the patella and trochlea (kneecap and thigh bone) in much the same way as the menisci (cartilages) are for the tibio-femoral joint (thigh bone and shin bone). The suprapatella plica, medial plica and infrapatella plica are not without clinical relevance. The plicae are associated with an age related development of osteoarthritis Lyu & Hsu 2006.
The relief of pain and prevention of progression of osteoarthritis is the main benefit of conservative treatments using physiotherapy, McConnell taping, and knee patella braces and supports.
The video below shows the impingement of the scarred medial plica between the kneecap (patella) and the trochlea of the thighbone (femur).
The damage to the hyaline cartilage surface seen above causes crunching when going up and down stairs and getting out of a chair (crepitus).
Crepitus with pain requires referral for assessment in order to prevent osteoarthritis of the knee...
The complete suprapatella plica causes knee pain in long distance cyclists and runners. The day case keyhole surgery is relatively simple with minimal pain and patients walk home the same day crutch free...
The incomplete suprapatella plica often cause the patient to feel intermittent tugging pain above the knee cap on the inside or outside of the knee. In some circunstances it contributes to higher than normal pressures in the patellofemoral joint that can be relieved by this procedure...
Some patients tear the plica like they tear a meniscus. This torn plica forms a band which rubs across the hyaline cartilage of the femur causing pain, degenerate change and eventually osteoarthritis. It is often difficult to spot on an MRI scan which is why if the symptoms and clinical signs suggest this diagnosis Mr Hardy reviews the MRI scan personally .
An intra-articular band of the knee is often easy for the patient to localise (a clinical symptom) but rarely are there clinical signs of this painful condition. The MRI scan is usually normal. However, take a careful history in these patients and the condition can be demonstrated and cured easily with day case keyhole surgery.
Patients can often point exactly to the place where the torn band from the plica is attached. There are other causes of intra-articular (in the joint) bands...
The infrapatella plica can be considered equivalent to a washing line that supports the Hoffa’s infrapatella fat pad. Tear of the infrapatella plica is not without clinical relevance when it intermittently gets caught beneath the knee cap causing pain and if consistent degenerate change leading to arthritis.
The relief of pain and prevention of progression of osteoarthritis is the main benefit of both conservative management using physiotherapy and knee patella braces and supports or keyhole surgery for this condition.
Hoffas Fat Pad Impingement
Hoffa's Fat Pad Syndrome
Hoffa's Posterior Fat Pad Impingement (HPFPI) syndrome is no longer as rare as first thought Krebs VE and Parker RD.
Mr Hardy's analysis of his arthroscopic experience since January 2001 is that on its own it accounts for approximately 12% of anterior knee pain. His analysis also shows it is associated with meniscal tears in nearly 25% of all patients undergoing arthroscopy for this condition. The treatment for this condition was described in the scientific literature 18 years ago Magi M, Branca A, Bucca C, Langerame V.
Hoffa's Fat Pad Impingement affects either the top or the bottom of the fat pad and occasionally both (apparent in patients who still have pain after keyhole surgery where only one has been addressed by the surgeon).
Below is a clip of a Russian patient with inferior and superior posterior Hoffa's impingement who had previously had unsuccessful arthroscopic surgery in Russia subsequently undergoing arthroscopy in my unit here in the UK:
Below is a clip of a patient with inferior posterior Hoffa's impingement and early degenerate change of the articular cartilage...
It is Mr Hardy's experience that a third of the patients he has assessed can be cured with patella taping (similar to that employed by Rafael Nadal) and physiotherapy.
Some patients do not respond to patella taping and these require a simple day case procedure. Anterior Knee Pain from conditions like Hoffa's is becoming much easier to treat with the advances in understanding and the better equipment available. Read about the experience of just one of Mr Hardy's patients who works for the French Insurance Company AXA. He now has a pain-free kneecap.
Hoffa's fat pad impingement appears to be frequently associated with meniscal tearing and it might be that impingement at the front of the knee causes a shearing force on the meniscus at the back of the knee resulting in a tear of the meniscus as in the video above. The meniscus can tear more than once as shown by the video below of a patient with a second meniscal tear treated during ACL reconstruction...
This is a copy of the patient information sheet for ACL reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Knee ACL reconstruction is highly successful these days. However, about 50% of all athletes that rupture their ACL do not require surgery but rehabilitation and an ACL Brace. In the patient not requiring surgery rehabilitation is as important, if not more so, than the athlete who does want surgery to stabilise their knee. Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery and rehabilitation have undergone dramatic changes recently. This is due to scientific research, improved surgical technique, extensive clinical experience and better understanding of the consequences of rehabilitation. ACL Surgery prevents instability that might cause meniscal tear. Meniscal tears, when unstable, are a potent cause of arthritis. Therefore, a priori, ACL reconstruction prevents arthritis....
Recent advances have led to the use of calcium composite crews that are replaced over the years with bone....