The innervation of patella: anatomical and clinical study.
As much interest has been focused on afferent innervation of knee than that of patella, there are few articles about patellar innervation. But in clinical practice anterior knee pain due to patellar disorders is a quite frequent problem. Our aim was to review the innervation pattern of patella and to give the topographic anatomy of the nerves. We dissected 30 knees of 15 formaldehyde-fixed cadavers. Two nerves from vastus medialis and lateralis were found to reach patellar edge. Apart from these, we were unable to find any other neural structures around patellae. Mean distances between the tuberosity of the tibia and medial and lateral nerve entry points were 90.1(range 74-102) and 96.3 mm (range 76-109), respectively. The angles between lines which join the entry points of nerves and vertical line to the center point of patella were measured in frontal plane. It was approximately 60 degrees medially and 40 degrees laterally. To confirm that these nerves are patellar pain afferents, we performed a local anesthesia test in 32 knees of 20 patients with patellofemoral pain. Clinically, there was a significant difference between the visual analogue scale (VAS) scores before and after local anesthetic injections (p<0.01). Previous studies have emphasized especially the medial innervation. We found that both superomedial and superolateral nerves were important for patellar innervation. We described precisely the entry points of these nerves to patella for selective denervation.