Unknown Body Part: Scientists Have Discovered a New Ligament in the Human Knee


Amazing medical discovery: A previously unknown ligament is discovered  in the human knee. It plays an important role in patients with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

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The new discovered ligament (the anterolateral ligament or ALL) depicted on a right knee. Photo: University Hospitals Leuven

For the last four years, orthopedic surgeons Dr Steven Claes and Professor Dr Johan Bellemans have been conducting research into serious ACL injuries in an effort to find out why. Their starting point: an 1879 article by a French surgeon that postulated the existence of an additional ligament located on the anterior of the human knee.

That postulation turned out to be correct: 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 per cent of all human knees. Subsequent research shows that pivot shift, the giving way of the knee in patients with an ACL tear, is caused by an injury in the ALL ligament.

Paper reference:

Steven Claes, Evie Vereecke, Michael Maes, Jan Victor, Peter Verdonk, Johan Bellemans. Anatomy of the anterolateral ligament of the kneeJournal of Anatomy, 2013; 223 (4): 321

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