MPFL Reconstruction Risks

When you have an injury to your MPFL, your surgeon may recommend reconstruction to help stabilise your knee and prevent recurrent dislocation of your patella. Most people who undergo a MPFL reconstruction have a good outcome and do not have any complications however, any surgical procedure carries some risks. Some of these risks are seriousso, it is important to consider this with your surgeon before making the decision to proceed.

The most common risk associated with a MPFL reconstruction is ongoing instability of the patella. Unfortunately, this is possible even when your surgery is performed well and is initially successful. This risk varies depending on your age and the types of activities you wish to engage in following your reconstruction.

The knee will be painful after the procedure but pain killers will be given to reduce this as much as possible. The skin around the knee may be temporarily or permanently numb due to damage of small nerves.

Other common risks (affecting 2-5% of patients) include:

  • Swelling/Haemarthrosis:
    This is a collection of fluid or blood in the knee joint. In most cases, the body will absorb the fluid itself. If the swelling becomes too large, the surgeon may feel an operation is necessary to drain the fluid
  • Stiffness:
    You may have difficulty in bending your knee all the way or getting it completely straight. You might need further surgery if this becomes a problem for you

Rare risks (affecting less than 1% of patients) include:

  • Infection:
    The wound sites may become red, painful and hot. There may also be a discharge. These are signs of infection and can usually be treated by antibiotics. The infection may spread to the knee joint itself (requiring a washout) and removal of the graft. Infection may also spread to the blood (sepsis) requiring intravenous antibiotics
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE):
    A DVT is a blood clot, usually in the calf/ leg. They can cause swelling and pain. Very rarely may they travel to the lungs (a PE) and cause a serious medical emergency
  • Damage to the Structures Within or Around the Knee:
    This is rare, but may cause further damage and symptoms. This may need further treatment including operation. These include fracture, meniscal surgery or debridement of scar tissue
  • Abnormal Wound Healing:
    The scars may become thick, red and painful (keloid scar). This is more common in in patients of certain races. There may also be delayed healing or wound oozing
  • Compartment Syndrome:
    This is a build up of pressure within the lower leg and can cause nerve damage, blood vessel damage and muscle damage. If this occurs, an emergency operation will have to be performed to prevent death of tissue of the lower leg/ foot
  • Osteoarthritis:
    This can be more common after knee injuries and operations