Hoffa's test is a clinical test for a damaged or irritated infrapatellar fat pad in the area behind the patellar tendon.

Page updated November 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)

Hoffa fat pad


Side view of the knee joint, showing the situation of the Hoffa (or infrapatellar) fat pad in the space behind the patellar tendon.

Hoffa's test for irritable fat pad


Position of the thumbs when performing the Hoffa's test.


How to perform Hoffa's Test

With the patient lying on the coach, and the examiner standing by the patient's knee, the examiner takes up the bent knee, pressing the thumbs of both hands deeply along the sides of the patellar tendon just below the patella. The patient is then instructed to straighten the leg. If there is inflammation of the fat pad, this causes pain in the fat pad region.

See YouTube video of a patient performing the Hoffa's test on themself.

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What does the Hoffa fat pad do?

The infrapatellar or Hoffa fat pad acts as a flexible cushion within the knee joint inside the capsule where it cushions the important structures of the front of the knee. It contains blood vessels and nerves and is covered by the same layer of cells (synovium) that lines the rest of the capsule and which provides lubrication for the joint. It is intimately related anatomically to the ligamentum mucosum (infrapatellar plica).

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Hoffa test
Hoffa sign
Hoffa's fat pad test

Dr Sheila Strover (Editor)
BSc (Hons), MB BCh, MBA

See biography...