Right when you think everything is relatively well sorted in respect to the anatomy of the human body, a new discovery is made. As of October 2013, two Belgian doctors published their research in Journal of Anatomy which pinpointed an additional ligament in the human knee.
According to Science News, four years ago Dr. Steven Claes and Professor Dr. Johan Bellemans began researching severe anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries and why instability remains present in some patients following repair of the ligament. They suspected that an additional ligament may be present in the knee based on an article published by a French surgeon in 1879. This article speculated that an additional ligament existed along the anterior (front) of the human knee. During their research, the doctors dissected 41 human cadavers in order to examine the anatomical structures of the knee. The results of the dissections yielded the discovery of the anterolateral ligament (ALL).
The following image, courtesy of Science News, comes from the University of Leuven where the two doctors were employed. This image is a lateral view (on the right knee this would be the right or outside side of the knee). It shows the ALL running from the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone).
The ALL is suspected to be present in 97% of all human knees. It is also believed to be significant in regard to ACL injuries and recovery. Based on the pivot style mechanics of common ACL injuries, both the ACL and ALL are likely injured at the same time. Due to the fact that the ALL was not previously known to be present, it was never repaired during ACL reconstructions. Now that there is a better understanding of this “new” ligament, doctors may be able to adapt their surgical techniques in order to improve stability following an ACL injury.
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