Undescribed Ligament Discovered in Human Knee

First Posted: Nov 05, 2013 02:08 PM EST

Researchers at University Hospitals Leuven have discovered a previously undescribed ligament that's located in the human knee. It appears to play an important role with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

Background information from the study notes that despite successful ACL repair via surgery and rehabilitation, some patients who undergo ACL-repaired knees continue to experience so-called 'pivot shift' that can cause their knees to give way during certain physical activities.

According to lead study authors orthopaedic surgeons Dr. Steven Claes and Professor Dr. Johan Bellemans, for the last four years, they've been conduction research regarding serious ACL injuries in an effort to find out why such a pivot shift often occurs.

Their research looks at the following background information, courtesy of a press release: "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, called the anterolateral ligament (ALL), was noted to be present in all but one of the 41 cadaveric knees studied. 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."

Their current research continues to question information about serious ACL injuries and hwo this could signal a breakthrough in the treatment of patients with serious ACL injuries, which tend to be common among athletes in pivot-heavy sports, such as soccer, basketball, skiing and football.

More information regarding the research can be found via the Journal of Anatomy.

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