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Part of 100+ Q&A about legs. See all.

What if I don’t have a kneecap?

The primary functional role of the patella is knee extension. The patella increases the leverage that the quadriceps tendon can exert on the femur by increasing the angle at which it acts. The patella is attached to the tendon of the quadriceps femoris muscle, which contracts to extend/straighten the knee.

Babies’ kneecaps are made up of soft cartilage that hasn’t yet ossified into bones, so their “true” kneecaps don’t show up on x-rays until somewhere between two and six years of age.

Your kneecap, known as the patella, is a small bone that protects your knee joint. If you are so unlucky as to shatter or break your kneecap badly enough, it will most likely have to be surgically removed. In those cases, though, surgeons do not create or install kneecap prostheses—because you can walk without a kneecap. Kneeling, however, may be a challenge without one, requiring protective gear.Knees are a favorite of terrorists and crime groups. Kneecapping is a nasty torture practice used by terrorists and organized crime groups to destroy the kneecaps, either by shooting a knee, or shattering them with a blunt object. The result is not life-threatening, but it’s extremely painful and permanently disabling.

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