Imaging findings of Hoffa’s fat pad herniation

Nancy A. Chauvin, Asef Khwaja, Monica Epelman, Michael J. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: We report the radiologic findings of herniation of Hoffa’s fat pad through a defect in the lateral patellar retinaculum in young children who presented with painless masses visible by ultrasound (US) only with flexion of the knee. Material and methods: Six children, between the ages of 1–8 years, presented with an anterolateral knee mass that was not tender and was only seen and palpable with knee flexion. An US was performed in all patients, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 2 patients and knee radiographs in 1 patient. Results: US imaging displayed focal herniation of Hoffa’s fat pad within the infrapatellar region through a defect of the lateral retinaculum, visible only during dynamic imaging when the knee was in flexion. MRI performed in knee extension did not demonstrate a mass; however, it revealed a focal defect in the lateral retinaculum in the region of the abnormality. Radiographs were normal. Conclusion: Focal herniation of Hoffa’s fat pad is an uncommon cause of an anterolateral knee mass in young children. When a knee mass is only identified in flexion, focal fat herniation through a defect in the retinaculum should be suspected and a dynamic US should be performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-512
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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