Knee dislocation

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Knee dislocations are rare, but a significant number have serious associated vascular injury. They account for <0.5% of all joint dislocations. 

This article discussed tibiofemoral joint dislocation. Please see separate articles for discussion of medial and lateral patellar dislocation


Knee dislocations are bilateral in 5% of cases 1,4. Five types of knee dislocation have been described, with respect to tibial displacement compared to the femur 1,2,4:

  • anterior (40%)
  • posterior (~33%)
  • lateral (~20%)
  • rotatory (~5%)
  • medial (~5%)

Knee dislocations are invariably associated with ligamentous injuries. The most common pattern is bicruciate (i.e. both anterior and posterior) cruciate ligament tears with either medial collateral ligament tear or posterolateral corner injury 4. Fractures of the distal femur or proximal tibia are also common (~15%) 2,4


Forced hyperextension is the most common mechanism of injury, and can occur in both high-velocity (e.g. motor vehicle collisions) and low-velocity (e.g. sports injuries) trauma. 

Treatment and prognosis

Knee pathology

The knee is a complex synovial joint that can be affected by a range of pathologies:

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Article information

rID: 42748
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Tibiofemoral knee dislocation
  • Anterior knee dislocation
  • Posterior knee dislocation

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: lateral
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    Case 2: lateral
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    Case 3: anterior
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    Case 3: anterior
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