Definition of Patella

Patella: The kneecap by another name, the patella is the small bone that is in the front of the knee.

The patella is a sesamoid bone, a little bone (sesamoid = like a sesame seed) that is embedded in a joint capsule or tendon, in this case the tendon of insertion of the quadriceps muscle (the "quad"). The patella in an adult is about 2 inches (5 cm) across.

If the patella is shattered beyond repair, it can be removed. The operation is termed a patellectomy.

Patella is a Latin word that referred to a "small pan, dish or plate." As a saucer, the patella is quite paltry and cannot have held much.


Last Editorial Review: 8/28/2013

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