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Quadricep and Patellar Tendon Ruptures

About quadriceps tendon ruptures

The quadriceps tendon is a large tendon that attaches the quadriceps muscle to the top of the kneecap. Ruptures of the quadriceps tendon usually occur above the kneecap where the tendon attaches to the kneecap. Tears may be partial or complete. A complete rupture will result in a visible gap in the tendon above the kneecap.

A complete quadriceps tendon rupture is uncommon but is very disabling when it happens. It affects middle-aged men, ages 50-60, more than women, and usually is the result of an   indirect trauma. They are usually caused by a sudden force that overloads the tendon such as a landing from a jump or participation in running and jumping sports.

Symptoms of a quadricep tendon injury include a sudden pain in the front to the thigh, swelling and bruising around the knee, knee buckling and giving way with walking, and an inability to straighten the leg.

About patellar tendon ruptures

The patellar tendon is a strong band of tissue that connects the kneecap to the shinbone (tibia). Patellar tendon ruptures typically occur in people younger than 40. However, patellar tendon ruptures have been reported to affect 7-8% of pediatric patients ages 12-15 who participate in sports and high energy recreational activities.

These are serious injuries which usually require a strong force to tear the patellar tendon.  A complete rupture can cause the kneecap to come loose from the leg bone. As with quadriceps tendon tears, a patellar tendon tear most commonly occurs in athletes who participate in running and jumping sports. A rupture can occur in an individual who has previously had a knee injury or who has weak tendons from a medical condition.

Symptoms include sudden and severe knee pain, swelling, bruising, and the knee giving way during walking. The kneecap may also be dislocated.

Risk factors for a quadriceps or patellar tendon tears include:

  • A sports – related injury from overuse causing tendonitis or microtears (Jumper’s knee of the patellar tendon)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Gout
  • Kidney failure
  • Inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus).
  • Infection
  • Deep lacerations
  • Steroid Use –using medications like corticosteroids & anabolic steroids

It is important to seek immediate treatment to prevent long-term complications.

How is a tendon tear diagnosed?

Dr. Harrison will review your medical history, inquire about how you injured your knee and your symptoms. He may order x-rays to evaluate the kneecap, thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia). He may also order an MRI to evaluate the tendons for ruptures, and other soft tissues. Ultrasound may also be employed to view ruptured tendons.

When you suffer a serious knee injury such that you cannot walk or bear weight on the leg it is important to see immediate to prevent long-term complications. Contact Dr. Harrison at his office to diagnose your injury and recommend treatment options.

Dr. Harrison is a board-certified fellowship trained orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery. He is the Head Team Physician for the United States Alpine Ski Team and the Head Team Physician for Weber State University for over 20 plus years. Dr. Harrison completed his undergraduate degree at Baylor University and received his medical degree from the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Utah followed by a fellowship in sports medicine at the Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center. He finished his formal training with an additional AO Trauma Fellowship in Bern, Switzerland.

Schedule a knee consultation

Have you suffered a quadricep tendon tear? Schedule a consultation with Ogden knee surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Harrison. Dr. Harrison is widely regarded as one of the best knee surgeons in Utah and renowned nationally. Dr. Harrison specializes in diagnosing and treating quadricep and patellar tendon ruptures. Dr. Harrison regularly sees patients from throughout Utah including Ogden, Salt Lake City, Park City, Logan and other communities.

At a Glance

Dr. Jeffrey Harrison

  • Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Head Team Physician US Women's Alpine Team and Weber State University
  • Performs over 800 surgeries per year
  • Learn more