Diagnosis and Management of Knee Dislocations

An acute knee dislocation is an uncommon injury, with a high rate of associated vascular and neurologic injuries as well as potentially limb-threatening complications. High-energy trauma is the most common cause of an acute knee dislocation, although lower-energy injuries, such as those sustained during athletic competition, are increasing in incidence. Injuries to the popliteal artery and common peroneal nerve are relatively common, requiring a high index of suspicion and complete neurovascular examination in a timely fashion. All cases of suspected knee dislocation should have an ankle-brachial index performed, reserving arteriography for those with an abnormal finding. Initial management consists of closed reduction, if possible, and application of a hinged brace or external fixator. Definitive management remains an area of controversy, although anatomic surgical repair or reconstruction is favored by most surgeons to help optimize knee function. Most patients treated for a knee dislocation can expect to return to their daily activities, but with less predictable returns to sporting activities.

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