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Patellar Fracture


A patellar fracture is a break in your kneecap.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Overhead trapeze:

This is a metal triangle-shaped grab bar that is hung on the frame of your hospital bed. Healthcare providers will teach you how to safely use the trapeze to move and change positions while in bed.


  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Antibiotics help fight or prevent an infection. They are usually given if you have an open fracture.
  • A Td vaccine is a booster shot used to help prevent diphtheria and tetanus. You may need the Td vaccine if you have an open patellar fracture.


  • An x-ray is a picture of your knee to see what kind of fracture you have. More than one picture may be taken. Healthcare providers may also x-ray your other leg for comparison.
  • A CT scan or an MRI is a type of x-ray that is taken of your knee. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see your knee better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A bone scan is a test to look at your patellar fracture and check for infection. You will get a radioactive liquid, called a tracer, through a vein in your arm. The tracer collects in your bones and pictures are taken.


  • A brace, cast, or splint may be needed. These are supportive devices that stop the kneecap from moving and help it heal. They often extend from the groin to the ankle. You may also need to use crutches to help you move around while your knee heals.
  • Surgery:
    • Irrigation and debridement is a procedure to clean and remove objects, dirt, or dead tissue from the fracture area.
    • Open reduction and internal fixation surgery may be needed. Healthcare providers make a large incision over your kneecap. The broken pieces of bone and ligaments are moved back to their correct places. Bone pieces and ligaments may be secured using wires, pins, screws, or bands.
    • Closed reduction surgery may be needed. Healthcare providers move the broken pieces of bone and ligaments back to their correct places without a large incision. External fixation may be used to hold your kneecap in place, and then later removed.
    • Patellectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your kneecap.
  • Physical therapy may be needed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.


  • Your leg may get stiff if you wear a supportive device. You may still have knee pain, even after treatment. Your knee may not look like it did before the injury. You may need to have surgery again. Even after surgery, the broken pieces of bone or the hardware may move out of place. You can get an infection. You are at higher risk for osteoarthrosis (cartilage loss) in your knee after surgery. You may get a blood clot in your leg. This may become life-threatening.
  • Without treatment, your kneecap may not heal correctly. You may have pain or weakness, or you may get an infection. You may not be able to move your leg as well as you did before your injury.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Patellar Fracture (Inpatient Care)

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