UAMS Gross Anatomy

Gross Anatomy


Posterior Thigh and Popliteal Fossa


Anatomy Tables for Today's Topic

Bones of the Thigh
Muscles of the Posterior Thigh
Nerves of the Posterior Thigh
Arteries of the Posterior Thigh
Topographic Anatomy
Lymphatics
Joints

Bones of the Thigh

Bone Structure Description Notes
ischium   the "V"- shaped bone that forms the posteroinferior part of the pelvis one of the three bones that form the os coxae: ilium, ischium, pubis
  ischial ramus the limb of the ischium that passes anteriorly and superomedially toward the pubis it articulates with the inferior ramus of the pubis
ischial tuberosity the roughened projection that protrudes posteroinferiorly from the body of the ischium it is the site of attachment of the sacrotuberous ligament; it is the site of origin of the inferior gemellus m., quadratus femoris m. and the hamstring mm. (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, long head of biceps femoris, ischiocondylar portion of the adductor magnus)
femur   the bone of the thigh the femur is the longest and strongest bone in the body
body the long slender shaft of the femur the linea aspera runs the entire length of the posterior surface of the body
linea aspera a vertical ridge on posterior surface of the femur it is the insertion site of the medial (adductor) group of thigh muscles and the origin of the vastus intermedius m. and the short head of the biceps femoris m.
tibia   the bone on the medial side of the leg the tibia is the weight-bearing bone of the leg
  medial condyle the heavy prominence on the medial side of the proximal end of the tibia the medial condyle articulates with the medial condyle of the femur; it is larger than the lateral condyle of the tibia
lateral condyle the heavy prominence on the lateral side of the proximal end of the tibia the lateral condyle articulates with the lateral condyle of the femur and with the head of the fibula
fibula   the slender bone on the lateral side of the leg the fibula is not a weight-bearing bone, it is a muscle attachment bone
  head the enlarged proximal end of the fibula it articulates with the lateral condyle of tibia; the fibular collateral ligament of the knee attaches to the head of the fibula

Muscles of the Posterior Thigh

Muscle Origin Insertion Action Innervation Artery Notes
biceps femoris long head: ischial tuberosity; short head: lateral lip of the linea aspera head of fibula and lateral condyle of the tibia extends the thigh, flexes the leg long head: tibial nerve; short head: common fibular (peroneal) nerve perforating branches of the deep femoral a. one of the "hamstring" muscles
semimembranosus upper, outer surface of the ischial tuberosity medial condyle of the tibia extends the thigh, flexes the leg tibial nerve perforating branches of the deep femoral a. one of the "hamstring" muscles
semitendinosus lower, medial surface of ischial tuberosity (common tendon with biceps femoris m.) medial surface of tibia (via pes anserinus) extends the thigh, flexes the leg tibial nerve perforating branches of the deep femoral a. pes anserinus is the common insertion for the gracilis, sartorius, and semitendinosus mm.

Nerves of the Posterior Thigh

Nerve Source Branches Motor Sensory Notes
fibular, common sciatic n. lateral sural cutaneous n., superficial and deep fibular nn. superficial fibular n.: muscles of the lateral compartment of the leg (fibularis longus and brevis mm.); deep fibular n.: muscles of the anterior compartment of the leg (tibialis anterior m., extensor hallucis longus m., extensor digitorum longus m., fibularis tertius m.) and muscles of the dorsum of the foot (extensor digitorum brevis m.and extensor hallucis brevis m.) superficial fibular n.: distal 1/3 of the anterior surface of the leg, dorsum of the foot excluding the web between the great toe and the 2nd toe and distal interphalangeal segments of all toes; deep fibular n.: skin of the web between the great toe and the 2nd toe "peroneal" is old terminology which has been replaced by "fibular"
sciatic n. sacral plexus (ventral primary rami of spinal nerves L4-L5 and S1-S3) tibial n., common fibular (peroneal) n. semitendinosus m., semimembranosus m., biceps femoris m., ischioconylar part of the adductor magnus m.; its branches supply all muscles of the leg and foot its branches supply the skin of the leg and foot (excluding the medial side of leg & foot) sciatic n. is composed of tibial and common fibular divisions; branches to muscles come from one of the two divisions, so that the sciatic n. is considered to have no direct muscular brs., only 2 terminal brs.
tibial n. sciatic n. medial sural cutaneous n., medial calcaneal brs., medial and lateral plantar nn. semimembranosus m., semitendinosus m., long head of biceps femoris m., ischiocondylar portion of adductor magnus m.; mm. of the superficial and deep posterior compartments of the leg (gastrocnemius m., soleus m., plantaris m., tibialis posterior m., flexor hallucis longus m., flexor digitorum longus m.); muscles of the plantar side of the foot skin of the plantar surface of the foot and toes; skin of the dorsal surface of the distal toes (nail bed region) tibial n. is the larger of the two divisions of the sciatic n.

Arteries of the Posterior Thigh

Artery Source Branches Supply to Notes
femoral, deep femoral a. medial circumflex femoral a., lateral circumflex femoral a., perforating aa. (3 or 4) hip joint, proximal thigh, posterior thigh deep femoral a. is the primary blood supply to muscles of the posterior compartment of the thigh
genicular, descending femoral a. saphenous br., articular brs. skin and superficial structures of the medial aspect of the knee and upper leg descending genicular a. anastomoses with the genicular brs. of the popliteal a.
genicular, inferior lateral popliteal a. no named branches lateral aspect of the knee inferior lateral genicular a. anastomoses with the other genicular brs. of the popliteal a., circumflex fibular a. and anterior tibial recurrent a. to form the genicular anastomosis
genicular, inferior medial popliteal a. no named branches medial aspect of the knee inferior medial genicular a. anastomoses with the other genicular brs. of the popliteal a., circumflex fibular a. and anterior tibial recurrent a. to form the genicular anastomosis
genicular, middle popliteal a. no named branches cruciate ligaments and deep structures of the knee middle genicular a. anastomoses with the other genicular brs. of the popliteal a., circumflex fibular a. and anterior tibial recurrent a. to form the genicular anastomosis
genicular, superior lateral popliteal a. no named branches lateral aspect of knee superior lateral genicular a. anastomoses with the other genicular brs. of the popliteal a., circumflex fibular a. and anterior tibial recurrent a. to form the genicular anastomosis
genicular, superior medial popliteal a. no named branches medial aspect of knee superior medial genicular a. anastomoses with the other genicular brs. of the popliteal a., circumflex fibular a. and anterior tibial recurrent a. to form the genicular anastomosis
popliteal femoral a. anterior tibial a., posterior tibial a., 5 genicular brs. knee, leg and foot the popliteal a. is the continuation of the femoral a., the name change occurs at the adductor hiatus
tibial recurrent, anterior anterior tibial a. no named branches anterior side of the knee and adjacent muscles anterior tibial recurrent a. anastomoses with the genicular aa. to participate in the formation of the genicular anastomosis
tibial recurrent, posterior anterior tibial a. no named branches posterior knee, popliteus m. anastomoses with the other genicular aa. to participate in the formation of the genicular anastomosis

Topographic Anatomy

Structure/Space Description/Boundaries Significance
adductor hiatus an opening in the tendon of insertion of the adductor magnus m.; its boundaries are: medial - portion of the tendon of adductor magnus that attaches to the adductor tubercle, lateral - insertion of the adductor magnus into the linea aspera, inferior - femur femoral a. and v. pass through the adductor hiatus to reach the posterior surface of the knee, where their name changes to popliteal a. and v.
fascia, crural deep fascia forming a tubular investment of the leg crural fascia is continuous with the fascia lata at the level of the knee; it is connected to the fibula by the anterior and posterior intermuscular septa; crural fascia is thickened near the ankle to form the extensor and flexor retinacula
popliteal fossa the shallow depression on the posterior surface of the knee; its boundaries are: superomedial - tendons of semimembranosus and semitendinosus mm., superolateral - tendon of biceps femoris m., inferior - medial and lateral heads of the gastrocnemius m. popliteal fossa contains: popliteal a. and v. and their branches; tibial n, common fibular n., popliteus m.
posterior compartment, thigh a connective tissue compartment that contains the muscles that flex the knee joint and extend the hip joint; its boundaries are: anterior - lateral intermuscular septum, femur and fascia between the medial and posterior compartments; lateral, medial and posterior - fascia lata posterior compartment of the thigh contains: semimembranosus m., semitendinosus m., biceps femoris m.; sciatic nerve; also known as: hamstring compartment

Lymphatics

Structure Location Afferents from Efferents to Regions drained Notes
popliteal nodes in the popliteal fossa along the popliteal vessels lymphatic vessels that accompany the anterior tibial , posterior tibial and fibular vessels deep and superficial inguinal nodes leg and foot 5 or 6 nodes located in the fat of the popliteal fossa

Joints

Joint or ligament Description Notes
anterior cruciate ligament a ligament connecting the anterior aspect of the intercondylar eminence of the tibia with the medial surface of the lateral femoral condyle an intracapsular ligament located within the fibrous joint capsule of the knee but external to the synovial cavity of the knee; the anterior cruciate ligament limits the anterior movement of the tibia relative to the femur in all positions of joint movement; clipping-type injuries tear the anterior cruciate ligament because the leg is forced anteriorly relative to the femur which places great stress on the anterior cruciate ligament
fibular collateral ligament the collateral ligament of the knee that connects the lateral epicondyle of the femur with the head of the fibula an extracapsular ligament, not part of the fibrous capsule of the knee; the fibular collateral ligament passes superficial to the tendon of origin of the popliteus m.
infrapatellar bursa, deep the bursa lying between the patellar ligament and the tibia synovial membrane, the deep infrapatellar bursa reduces friction between the patellar ligament and the tibia
infrapatellar bursa, superficial a subcutaneous bursa overlying the patellar ligament synovial membrane
knee joint the articulation between the femoral condyles and the tibial condyles a synovial hinge joint; it is reinforced by intracapsular ligaments (anterior & posterior cruciate ligaments) and two types of collateral ligaments (capsular - tibial collateral ligament, and extracapsular - fibular collateral ligament); the medial and lateral menisci are contained within the joint capsule
lateral meniscus an intra-articular disc within the knee joint located between the lateral femoral condyle and the lateral tibial condyle fibrocartilage; it is attached to the coronary ligament and the intercondylar eminence of the tibia
medial meniscus an intra-articular disc within the knee joint located between the medial femoral condyle and the medial tibial condyle fibrocartilage; it is attached to the tibial collateral ligament, coronary ligament and intercondylar eminence of the tibia; its attachment fo the tibial collateral ligament results in injury to the medial meniscus whenever the medial collateral ligament is injured
patellar ligament the tendon of insertion of the quadriceps femoris muscle the quadriceps femoris tendon connects the quadriceps femoris muscle group to the patella and the patellar ligament connects the patella to the tibial tuberosity; the patella is a sesamoid bone within the quadriceps femoris tendon
posterior cruciate ligament a ligament connecting the posterior aspect of the intercondylar eminence with the lateral surface of the medial femoral condyle an intracapsular ligament located within the fibrous joint capsule of the knee but external to the synovial cavity of the knee; the posterior cruciate ligament limits the posterior movement of the tibia relative to the femur in all positions of joint movement
posterior meniscofemoral ligament an intracapsular ligament that connects the posterior part of the lateral meniscus with the lateral surface of the medial femoral condyle may be absent
prepatellar bursa a subcutaneous bursa overlying the patella synovial membrane; inflammation of this bursa leads to the condition known as "housemaid's knee" (prepatellar bursitis), so named because housemaids at one time traumatized this bursa while scrubbing floors on their hands and knees
suprapatellar bursa the superior extension of the synovial membrane of the knee joint it passes deep to the quadriceps femoris tendon; the suprapatellar bursa reduces friction between the quadriceps femoris tendon and the femur
tibial collateral ligament the collateral ligament of the knee joint connecting the medial epicondyle of the femur with the medial surface of the medial condyle of the tibia the tibial collateral ligament reinforces the medial surface of the articular capsule of the knee; it is attached to the medial meniscus which has clinical relevance - when the tibial collateral ligament tears in a clipping-type injury (knee abduction), the medial meniscus also tears

Other Tables of Interest:


All Anatomy Tables

Tables Organized by System Tables Organized by Region


Some of the material presented in these tables is contained in the book:
MedCharts Anatomy by Thomas R. Gest and Jaye Schlesinger
Published by ILOC, Inc., New York. Copyright 1995.

Content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2006, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Unauthorized use is prohibited.