MPFL is an abbreviation of 'medial patello-femoral ligament'.

Page updated January 2024 by Dr Sheila Strover (Clinical Editor)

intact MPFL
The MPFL is a ligament that holds the patella in a central position by tethering it to the inner side of the femur. It is the most important of several stabilising ligaments around the patella.


What does the MPFL do?

The MPFL supports the patella, acting as a restraint on the medial side for the first few degrees and bending of the knee, helping to keep it aligned in the underlying groove of the femur as the knee bends and straightens.

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During a traumatic dislocation of the patella, the MPFL may become injured and the patella may become more unstable. The tear may be an avulsion, a simple sprain, a partial tear or a full substance tear, and may be accompanied by tears of the VMO muscle (vastus medialis obliquus) and the medial retinaculum.

Initially the doctor may choose to treat the problem without surgery, and sometimes the instability settles down, but if dislocations recur, reconstructive surgery may be advised.

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MPFL reconstruction

The knee surgeon may elect to repair the torn ligament to improve stability. A variety of natural and synthetic materials have been used for such reconstructions, but the jury seems to be still out on which is best.

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Forum discussions

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Peer-reviewed papers

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medial patellofemoral ligament

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

See biography...