A lateral release is a surgical procedure to release tight capsular structures (lateral retinaculum) on the outer aspect of the knee.
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, 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 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.
- Excessive lateral pressure syndrome
- Lateral retinaculum
- Medial reefing
- Lateral retinacular lengthening