Quadriceps Fat Pad Signal Intensity and Enlargement on MRI: Prevalence and Associated Findings

Journal Article

OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize the MRI appearance of the quadriceps fat pad and to correlate the findings with other knee abnormalities, anatomic measurements of the extensor mechanism, and findings from history and at physical examination. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Ninety-two consecutive knee MRI examinations from 84 patients were retrospectively reviewed by two musculoskeletal radiologists for quadriceps fat pad enlargement and signal intensity. Other data from the retrospective review included infrapatellar and prefemoral fat pad signal intensity, quadriceps and patellar tendon abnormalities joint effusion, medial plica, chondromalacia, articular muscle thickness, and prepatellar edema. The patellar length, patellar articular length, patellar tendon length, and femoral sulcus angle were measured. MRI reports were reviewed for meniscal and ligament abnormalities. Clinical data were reviewed for findings of anterior knee pain in the history and at physical examination. The chi-square and Student's t tests were used to determine significant associations. RESULTS. Twelve percent (11/92) of MRI examinations showed quadriceps fat pad mass effect on the suprapatellar recess, which was associated with intermediate or fluid signal intensity of the quadriceps fat pad (ξ2 = 7.19, p = 0.0274) but with no other findings on knee MRI. Anterior knee pain at physical examination was associated with quadriceps fat pad mass effect (ξ2 = 8.76, p = 0.0031), medial collateral ligament abnormality (ξ2 = 4.83, p = 0.0031), and history of anterior knee pain (ξ2 = 22.76, p < 0.0001). CONCLUSION. Enlargement of the quadriceps fat pad on MRI has a prevalence of 12% and is significantly associated with intermediate or fluid signal intensity of the quadriceps fat pad and anterior knee pain.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Roth, C; Jacobson, J; Jamadar, D; Caoili, E; Morag, Y; Housner, J

Published Date

  • 2004

Published In

  • American Journal of Roentgenology

Volume / Issue

  • 182 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1383 - 1387

PubMed ID

  • 15149978

Pubmed Central ID

  • 15149978