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March 22, 2021

Acute Knee Injuries in Children and Adolescents: A Review

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
  • 2Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus
  • 3Children’s Hospital Colorado, Orthopedic Institute, Sports Medicine Center, Aurora
  • 4University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora
JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(6):624-630. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6130

Importance  Knee injuries in children and adolescents are exceedingly common. When an active youth presents complaining of knee pain, the treating pediatrician should be comfortable with forming a working differential diagnosis and should be able to manage many such injuries or recognize when it is necessary to make an appropriate referral.

Observations  Knee injuries typically present after acute trauma. Appreciating the likely etiologies pertaining to a particular case is best achieved with a thorough history and physical examination. This review discusses the etiologies of acute injuries including fractures that are unique to skeletally immature individuals, patellar dislocations, ligamentous injuries, and meniscal tears. Imaging findings and management of these conditions are also reviewed.

Conclusions and Relevance  This review summarizes the more common acute knee injuries seen in active children and adolescents. Given how frequently such conditions present, this overview of diagnosis and management will provide a useful resource for the nonspecialist.

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