Doctors Discover New Ligament in Human Knee

    November 5, 2013
    Sean Patterson
    Comments are off for this post.

Though it’s generally assumed that all parts of the human body have been mapped and accounted for, it turns out that the study of human anatomy isn’t quite complete.

Two Belgian surgeons have recently published a paper in the Journal of Anatomy titled “Anatomy of the anterolateral ligament of the knee.” The paper provides a clear anatomical description of the anterolateral ligament (ALL), a previously unnamed ligament found near the front of the knee.

Though the new paper provides a full description of the newly-found ligament, the existence of the ligament was speculated upon as far back as 1879 by a French surgeon.

Dr. Steven Claes, lead author of the paper, and his colleagues examined 41 human cadaver knees using macroscopid dissection techniques. They found the ALL in 40 of them, meaning that perhaps up to 97% of all humans have the ALL in their knee.

In addition to describing the ALL, the doctors were interested in whether the ligament could play a role in pivot shift – an occurrence in which the knee of athletes with former anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries gives way under stress. In examining the ALL it was found that injuries to the newly-named ligament are, in fact, the cause of pivot shift.

Claes and his fellow researchers are now working on a technique to repair ALL injuries. A new surgery of that type could be ready in the coming years, meaning the treatment of ACL injuries and tears could change significantly.

(Image courtesy University of Leuven)

  • Interesting

    My opinion on knee injuries is that they are either caused by freak occurrences (getting twisted/extended the wrong way) or by steroids (the muscle on the legs get so large that they add additional stress on the ligaments and the eventually just fail). I was an athlete and almost every knee injury I have ever seen fell into those categories.

    I think we are greatly underestimating the effects of steroids and how much they are being used. Muscle cells don’t reproduce and muscle density is determined by two factors – length of bone and density of the bone. When we add too much muscle to our frames, the ligaments just tear. You see that a lot with things such as pec tears.