A lateral release is a surgical procedure to release tight capsular structures (lateral retinaculum) on the outer aspect of the knee.

retinaculum supporting the patella


The patella is supported on both sides by the fibrous retinacula, the most important of which is the lateral retinaculum.

patellar tilt


Sometimes the retinaculum is too tight on the lateral side and this results in 'patellar tilt', excessive lateral pressure syndrome and anterior knee pain.

lateral retinacular release


In the procedure of lateral release, which is nowadays usually performed arthroscopically from inside the joint, the retinaculum is cut on the lateral (outer) side of the knee, allowing the patella to move into a better position.


Lateral release recovery

This procedure is being performed less frequently and for more stringent indications, where it was in the past performed fairly indiscriminately for several problems relating to the patella. If performed for the wrong indication, it may lead to real kneecap instability, and instability may be to the medial side rather than the more common lateral side. Surgeons nowadays - where ther is a clear indication - may recommend a lateral retinacular lengthening rather than a lateral release.

Lateral retinacular release

A patellofemoral expert discusses the modern role of the now controversial lateral release procedure

Lateral release continues to be a controversial procedure, particularly if the surgeon is not a patellofemoral specialist.

Proximal realignment procedures

Realigning the patella in the proper axis by surgical procedures above the patella.

The lateral retinaculum and lateral release

Article about the anatomy of the lateral retinaculum of the knee, and indications for lateral release surgery.

An 'interpretation' of a 2008 medical publications of the anatomical structure of the lateral retinaculum as found in cadaver dissections.