BACKGROUND: Histological and epidemiological data suggest that increased signal intensity at the proximal patellar tendon on magnetic resonance imaging is a response to tendon loading. As patellofemoral geometry is a mediator of loading, we examined the association between patellofemoral geometry and the prevalence of increased signal intensity at the patellar tendon in community-based middle-aged adults. METHODS: Two hundred-one adults aged 25-60 years in a study of obesity and musculoskeletal health had the patellar tendon assessed from magnetic resonance imaging. Increased signal intensity at the proximal patellar tendon was defined as hyper-intense regions of characteristic pattern, size and distribution on both T1- and T2-weighted sequences. Indices of patellofemoral geometry, including Insall-Salvati ratio, patellofemoral congruence angle, sulcus angle, and lateral condyle-patella angle, were measured from magnetic resonance imaging using validated methods. Binary logistic regression was used to examine the association between patellofemoral geometrical indices and the prevalence of increased signal intensity at the patellar tendon. RESULTS: The prevalence of increased signal intensity at the patellar tendon was 37.3%. A greater Insall-Salvati ratio (odds ratio 0.80, 95% confidence interval 0.66-0.97 per 0.1 change in the ratio, p = 0.02), indicative of a higher-riding patella, and a larger patellofemoral congruence angle (odds ratio 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.85-0.98 per 5 degree change in the angle, p = 0.01), indicating a more laterally placed patella, were associated with reduced odds of increased signal intensity at the patellar tendon. Sulcus angle and lateral condyle-patella angle were not significantly associated with the odds of increased signal intensity at the patellar tendon. CONCLUSIONS: In community-based asymptomatic middle-aged adults, increased signal intensity at the patellar tendon was common and associated with Insall-Salvati ratio and patellofemoral congruence angle, suggesting a biomechanical mechanism. Such work is likely to inform tissue engineering and cell regeneration approaches to improving outcomes in those with tendon pathology.
- Insall-Salvati ratio
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Patellar tendon
- Patellofemoral congruence angle