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 lateral retinacular release patellar tilt
The patella is supported on both sides by the fibrous retinacula, the most important of which is the lateral retinaculum. In the procedure of lateral release, the retinaculum is cut on the lateral (outer) side of the knee, allowing the patella to move into a better position. The procedure is done to improve the fit of the patella in the groove of the underlying femur bone in cases of 'patellar tilt'. It is nowadays usually performed arthroscopically.


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.

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.



Lateral patellar retinacular release: changes over the last ten years. da Fonseca LPRM, Kawatake EH and de Castro Pochini A. Rev Bras Ortop. 2017 Jun-Jul; 52(4): 442–449.

Open lateral patellar retinacular lengthening versus open retinacular release in lateral patellar hypercompression syndrome: a prospective double-blinded comparative study on complications and outcome. Pagenstert G, Wolf N, Bachmann M, Gravius S, Barg A, Hintermann B, Wirtz DC, Valderrabano V, Leumann AG. Arthroscopy. 2012 Jun;28(6):788-97.

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