A lateral release is a surgical procedure to release tight capsular structures (lateral retinaculum) on the outer aspect of the knee.
Page updated Aug 2023 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)
Sometimes the tissues are too tight on one side, and pull the patella into a poor position.
The lateral release procedure attempts to re-position the patella in a better position by cutting the tissues on the lateral side.
What does a lateral release entail?
The patella is supported on both sides by the fibrous retinacula, the most important of which is the lateral retinaculum. Sometimes the retinaculum is too tight on the lateral side and this results in 'patellar tilt', excessive lateral pressure syndrome and anterior knee pain.
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.
- FIXED my failed lateral release! (Exercises for medial patellar instability)
A broad discussion about failure of the lateral release which resulted in medial subluxation.
- LATERAL RELEASE FAILED - VMO advancement next
A young person struggles after failed lateral release.
- Pros & Cons of Lateral Release
A discussion including the reputation of lateral release.
- Patella Tracking Issues - lateral release?
Patients discuss the difficult topic of decision-making after previous surgery fails.
Citation: Sanchis-Alfonso V, Montesinos-Berry E. Is lateral retinacular release still a valid surgical option? From release to lengthening. Ann Transl Med. 2015 Nov;3(19):301. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2015.11.15. PMID: 26697461; PMCID: PMC4671865.
Quote: "We frequently hear these words when talking about the LRR [lateral retinacular release]: “I am going to perform a very minor surgery that can do you no harm, and still leaves the door open for more aggressive realignment procedures”. There is nothing further from the truth. This way of thinking is a big mistake..."
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Relevant material -
- Lateral retinaculum
- Patellar tilt
- Excessive lateral pressure syndrome
- Medial reefing
- Lateral retinacular lengthening
Surgeon commentary -
Surgeon commentary -
Peer-reviewed paper -
- Journal interpretation - 2008 - Anatomy of the lateral retinaculum of the knee - by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)