Infrapatellar fat pad: anterior crossroads of the knee

  • Maurel B.
  • Le Corroller T.
  • Cohen M.
  • Acid S.
  • Bierry G.
  • Parratte S.
  • Flecher X.
  • Argenson Jean-Noël
  • Petit P.
  • Champsaur P.


The infrapatellar fat pad or Hoffa's fat pad is a cylindrical extrasynovial collection of fat located in the infrapatellar region. Anatomical, biomechanical and imaging data show that the infrapatellar fat pad constitutes a true crossroads between patella, femur and tibia and helps in understanding if not describing regional pathology. Intrinsic lesions (with abnormal signal on MRI) such as hoffitis, anterolateral impingement, plica syndrome, post-arthroscopic changes, trauma, patellar dislocation and extrasynovial tumors are less frequent. On the other hand, extrinsic lesions are more frequent and may affect the synovium, patellar ligament, vascular structures, and bursae. Mucoid and parameniscal cysts may develop in the infrapatellar fat pad. In this article, the anatomical and imaging features of the infrapatellar fat pad will be summarized and the most common lesions will be illustrated.