Comparison of Insall-Salvati ratios in children with an acute anterior cruciate ligament tear and a matched control population

Andrew Joseph Degnan, Catherine Maldjian, Richard J. Adam, Freddie H. Fu, Marica Didomenico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective. An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is an increasingly recognized cause of knee pain in young patients and in athletes in particular and can be detected non-invasively with MRI. Anecdotal information suggests that patella alta may be more common in the setting of this injury, but no study has documented this phenomenon. This study sought to test whether an ACL tear is associated with an increased lnsall-Salvati ratio suggestive of patella alta. Materials and methods. Measurements of patellar height, patellar tendon length, and the Insall-Salvati ratio obtained from MRI of the knee were compared for 34 children with an arlhroscopically proven ACL tear (mean age ± SD, 12.4 ± 1.4 years) and 36 control subjects with normal knee examinations (12.8 ± 2.1 years); these measurements were performed independently by two observers. Results. Patellar tendon length (47.6 ± 6.6 mm vs 40.4 ± 5.7 mm) and patellar position calculated as the Insall-Salvati ratio (1.16 ± 0.16 vs 0.99 ± 0.14) were significantly greater in the knees with an ACL injury than in those without an internal injury, respectively, on MRI (P < 0.001). Patella length was not significantly different between the two groups (patients vs control subjects, 41.1 ± 4.2 mm vs 40.6 ± 2.7 mm, respectively; p=0.523). There was good to excellent interobserver and iniraobscrver correlation forali measurements. Conclusion. There is a significant association between an ACL tear and increased patellar tendon length with a greater Insall-Salvati ratio. The mechanism for this finding is unclear, but this association provides support to suggest relative patella alta may be a risk factor for ACL injuries in pediatric patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-166
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior cruciate ligamenttear
  • Knee joint injury
  • MRI
  • Patella alta
  • Patellar tendon injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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