Kneecap Arthritis after Serious Knee Ligament Injury

Identifying strategies to reduce the risk of kneecap arthritis after serious knee ligament injury

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common orthopaedic disorders with considerable impact on functional ability and quality of life. The kneecap is increasingly recognised as a key contributor to knee OA and is strongly associated with pain. While knee OA is typically a disease of the elderly, early-onset kneecap OA affects younger adults at an alarming rate within the first decade after a serious knee ligament injury. Given that such knee injuries occur frequently to adolescents and young adults, these people are prone to develop kneecap OA before 40 years of age – “young people, old knees”.


The identification of modifiable risk factors for kneecap OA after serious knee ligament injury will help lead to strategies to reduce structural degeneration in these young adults. This NHMRC funded project, firstly, aims to determine if knee reconstruction surgery increases the risk of early kneecap OA after a serious knee ligament injury using a pioneering international RCT in collaboration with researchers from Sweden and Austria; and secondly, aims to identify biomechanical and functional risk factors after knee reconstruction that increase early kneecap OA risk using a prospective study.


Evaluating kneecap OA during its earliest stages, using state-of-the-art MRI techniques may identify an important window to develop interventions to reduce the burden associated with this important public health problem and has potential to change the current approach to knee injury management.


Staff involved: Adam Culvenor, Kay Crossley, Felix Eckstein

Dr Culvenor is an NHMRC Early Career Researcher