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We scanned 25 left knees in healthy human subjects using MRI. Multiplanar reconstruction software was used to take measurements of the inferior and posterior facets of the femoral condyles and the trochlea. A 'basic circle' can be defined which, in the sagittal plane, fits the posterior and inferior facets of the lateral condyle, the posterior facet of the medial condyle and the floor of the groove of the trochlea. It also approximately fits both condyles in the coronal plane (inferior facets) and the axial plane (posterior facets). The circle fitting the inferior facet of the medial condyle in the sagittal plane was consistently 35% larger than the other circles and was termed the 'medial inferior circle'. There were strong correlations between the radii of the circles, the relative positions of the centres of the condyles, the width of the condyles, the total knee width and skeletal measurements including height. There was poor correlation between the radii of the circles and the position of the trochlea relative to the condyles. In summary, the condyles are approximately spherical except for the inferior facet medially, which has a larger radius in the sagittal plane. The size and position of the condyles are consistent and change with the size of the person. However, the position of the trochlea is variable even though its radius is similar to that of the condyles. This information has implications for understanding anterior knee pain and for the design of knee replacements.

Original publication




Journal article


Bone joint j

Publication Date





1623 - 1630


Design, Distal Femur, Geometry, Knee, MRI, Predictability, Shape, Adult, Female, Femur, Humans, Knee, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged