The wrinkled patellar tendon: an indication of abnormality in the extensor mechanism of the knee

Robert C. Berlin, E. Mark Levinsohn*, Howard Chrisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Rupture of the quadriceps tendon is an uncommon condition which requires early diagnosis and treatment to avert prolonged disability. In four patients who had surgically confirmed quadriceps tendon rupture, lateral radiographs of the knee and/or sagittal magnetic resonance (MR) images demonstrated a corrugated appearance to the patellar tendon. Sagittal MR images of the knee following patellectomy in one patient and radiographs of a transverse fracture of the patella in another also demonstrated this appearance. MRI has superb contrast resolution which provides optimal visualization of the contour of the patellar tendon on sagittal images. A retrospective review of 50 consecutive knee MRI examinations was carried out to evaluate the appearance of the normal patellar tendon. In 49 of 50 patients, the sagittal images demonstrated a straight or nearly straight patellar tendon. A corrugated appearance of the patellar tendon on sagittal images indicates a reduction in the normal tensile force applied to it and indicates the need for careful evaluation of the patella and quadriceps tendon mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-185
Number of pages5
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 1991


  • Extensor mechanism of knee
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Patellar tendon
  • Quadriceps tendon rupture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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