Jan 29, 2015
New Knee Ligament Discovered

A new ligament has been found on the anterior of the knee. It is believed to be involved in ACL tears and could provide insight into how these injuries should best be treated.
Both Steven Claes, MD, a knee surgeon at University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, and Johan Bellemans, MD, a knee surgeon and head of the Department of Orthopaedics at University Hospitals Leuven, have had past patients complain of “pivot shift,” or their ACL-repaired knees giving out on them during physical activity. Claes and Bellemans have spent the past four years trying to learn why. One source they consulted along the way was an 1879 article by a French surgeon that speculated an additional, unknown ligament in the human knee could be involved.

According to the University of Leuven’s press release, that theory was right:

The Belgian doctors are the first to identify the previously unknown ligament after a broad cadaver study using macroscopic dissection techniques. Their research shows that the ligament, which was given the name anterolateral ligament (ALL), is present in 97 percent of all human knees. Subsequent research shows that pivot shift … is caused by an injury in the ALL.

Some of the conclusions were recently published in the Journal of Anatomy. The Anatomical Society praised the research as “very refreshing” and commended the researchers for reminding the medical world that, despite the emergence of advanced technology, our knowledge of the basic anatomy of the human body is not yet exhaustive.

The research questions current medical thinking about serious ACL injuries and could signal a breakthrough in the treatment of patients with serious ACL injuries. Claes and Bellemans are currently working on a surgical technique to correct ALL injuries. Those results will be ready in several years.

In the below figure, the ALL is visible after a full dissection of the knee.

anterolateral ligament.png

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