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Lateral Release Procedure
Dr. James Chen, M.D. - In San Francisco, CA



Dr. Chen’s surgical technique for lateral release:


An arthroscopic procedure performed to relieve symptoms of patellar maltracking that cannot be corrected with physical therapy. Two small incisions are made on the front of the knee. An arthroscopic camera and instruments are used to to identify and cut the innermost layers of the joint capsule. This allows the patella to shift into its proper position for tracking thus relieving painful symptoms caused by maltracking.

Common Questions about Lateral Release

What is a lateral release?

A lateral release is an arthroscopic procedure to help correct patella tracking disorder when the cause of maltracking is a tight lateral retinaculum. The lateral retinaculum is "released" or divided so that the patella can track correctly.

Who is the ideal candidate for a lateral release?

A patient must fail and exhaust all nonsurgical management first including physical therapy, knee bracing, kneecap taping, anti-inflammatory medications, and injections. A patient should not have malalignment of the trochlear groove relative to the tibial tubercle and should not have a dysmorphic kneecap or trochlear groove. A lateral release is also not indicated in a patient with a hypermobile patella.

What is the recovery like after a lateral release?

The patient is able to walk immediately following surgery but typically does not return to full activity for 4 to 6 weeks. The patient can expect swelling of the knee during the recovery process.

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