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The fabella syndrome - a rare cause of posterolateral knee pain: a review of the literature and two case reports

PainSci » bibliography » Driessen et al 2014
Tags: knee, anatomy, leg, limbs, pain problems

Two articles on PainSci cite Driessen 2014: 1. The Complete Guide to Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome2. You Might Just Be Weird

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this article was to evaluate the risks and benefits of non-operative treatment versus surgical excision of a fabella causing posterolateral knee pain. We performed a systematic review of literature and also present two case reports.Twelve publications were found in a PubMed literature review searching the word "fabella syndrome". Non-operative treatment and surgical excision of the fabella has been described.

CASE PRESENTATION: Two patients presented to our outpatient clinic with persisting posterolateral knee pain. In both cases the presence of a fabella was identified, located in close proximity to the posterolateral femoral condyle. All other common causes of intra- and extra articular pathologies possibly causing the posterolateral knee pain were excluded.Following failure to respond to physiotherapy both patients underwent arthroscopy which excluded other possible causes for posterolateral knee pain. The decision was made to undertake surgical excision of the fabella in both cases without complication.Both patients were examined 6 month and one year after surgery with the Tegner activity score, the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), and International Knee Documentation Committee Score (IKDC).

CONCLUSION: Consistent posterolateral pain during exercise might indicate the presence of a fabella syndrome. Resecting the fabella can be indicated and is a minor surgical procedure with minimal risk. Despite good results in the literature posterolateral knee pain can persist and prevent return to a high level of sports.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: IV, case reports and analysis of literature.

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