Lateral retinacular release is a surgical procedure used to treat patients with patellar problems and pain that has not been relieved through more conservative treatment.
Some patients have a patella that is naturally tilted. The X-ray on the right shows this situation. Notice how the patella is moved to the left so that the space between the patella and the bone is less than on the right.
When this knee bends, the patella rubs against the bone on the left. Eventually, the cartilage wears down and this causes pain and swelling in the knee. There may be popping or clicking when the knee is moved.
In some patients, lateral tilt is caused by tightness of the lateral retinaculum, or the connective tissue on the outside of the knee that helps hold your patella in place. If the lateral retinaculum is too tight, your patella will tilt laterally and may cause problems.
During a lateral release surgery, the lateral retinaculum is cut in order to release tension on the kneecap. This will restore the patella to its normal position and prevent it from coninuing to rub and cause pain and problems.
Go to our case history for patient #6 to read about a patient who had a lateral release performed.