Anterior interval release is a surgical procedure to remove scar tissue in the 'anterior interval' - a region behind the patellar tendon.
Page updated September 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)
What is arthrofibrosis?
Arthrofibrosis is internal scarring of the normally mobile soft tissue areas inside a joint following an episode of inflammation. Commonly the trigger is a knee injury or surgery, often quite minor surgery, where pain inhibits the patient from moving the joint during a critical period of rehabilitation. It can resolve in the early stages with specialist help, but in some cases the patient is left with permanent reduced range of motion, and the kneecap may eventually end up in an abnormally low position (patella baja or infera).
Scarring may involve one or more of the tissue spaces in the knee:
- the large above the kneecap - the suprapatellar pouch
- the space between the fat pad and the patellar tendon - the anterior interval
- the fat pad itself
- the capsular folds at the side of the joint cavity - the lateral gutters (not visible in illustration)
- the capsular gutters at the back of the knee - the posterior capsule
What is the procedure of anterior interval release?
Kukreja M, Kang J, Curry EJ, Li X. Arthroscopic Lysis of Adhesions and Anterior Interval Release With Manipulation Under Anesthesia for Severe Post-traumatic Knee Stiffness: A Simple and Reproducible Step-by-Step Guide. Arthrosc Tech. 2019 Apr 11;8(5):e429-e435. doi: 10.1016/j.eats.2019.01.005. PMID: 31194118; PMCID: PMC6554358.
Quote: "The procedure is technically demanding, requiring advanced arthroscopic expertise and accurate portal placement to attain complete lysis of adhesions. In severe cases, minimal flexion at the knee or extensive intercondylar notch scarring and fibrosis may present difficulty in accessing the knee joint in flexion."
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Relevant material -
- Anterior interval arthrofibrosis
- Stiff knee
- Anterior interval
- Patella baja
- Range of motion
- Lysis of adhesions
2006 - Anterior interval release - the rationale behind this surgical procedure - by Dr Peter J Millett (Knee Surgeon)
- The stiff knee after injury or surgery - how to manage it