Surgeons discover new ligament in human knee

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Published November 06, 2013

The human knee has more components than previously thought.

Two Belgian knee surgeons have discovered a previously unknown ligament located in the muscles and tendons of the human knee – a part they have named the anterolateral ligament (ALL).  According to the surgeons, the ALL is present in 97 percent of all human knees and may play a significant role in how patients recover from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

After undergoing successful ACL repair surgeries, many patients will continue to suffer from a condition known as “pivot shift,” in which the knee “gives way” during activity.  In order to better understand this strange occurrence, Dr. Steven Claes and Dr. Johan Bellemans from University Hospitals Leuven have been conducting research into ACL tears over the past four years. They looked into a theory made by a French surgeon in 1879, which claimed that an unknown ligament existed on the anterior of the human knee.

After conducting a broad cadaver study using macroscopic dissection techniques, Claes and Bellemans found this theory to be correct.  Their research showed that pivot shift occurs when there is additional injury in the ALL.

The discovery, which was detailed in the Journal of Anatomy, could signal a breakthrough for the future of treatment for ACL injuries.

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