Posterior cruciate ligament tear

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears are less common than anterior cruciate ligament tears

Posterior cruciate ligament tears account for ~10% (range 2-23%) of all knee injuries 2

Many patients will be asymptomatic and their clinical examination is unremarkable. Sports injuries and car accidents are equally responsible for these injuries 1

Three mechanisms of injury have been proposed 2:

  • posterior tibial displacement in a flexed knee
  • hyperextension
  • rotation with an abduction or adduction force

PCL injuries are isolated in only 30% of cases and are thus commonly associated with other injuries 1,2.4:

Features of posterior ligament tears include 1,2

  • PCL usually remains contiguous (~70%) although there may be complete or partial ligamentous disruption
    • absent PCL replaced by high T1 and T2 signal
  • enlarged and swollen PCL: >7 mm AP diameter on sagittal imaging is indicative of a tear

PCL tears may result in chronic instability and early degenerative change 2


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: 37582
Tag: knee
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Ruptured PCL
  • PCL tear
  • PCL rupture

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