UAMS Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences - Bones of the Lower Limb

Gross Anatomy


Bones of the Lower Limb - Listed in Proximal to Distal Order

Bone Structure Description Notes
pubis an angulated bone the forms the anterior part of the pelvis one of three bones that form the os coxae: ilium, ischium, pubis; its body forms 1/5 of the acetabulum; its symphyseal surface unites with the pubis of the opposite side to form the pubic symphysis; the superior and inferior pubic rami participate in the formation of the obturator foramen
body superolateral portion of the pubis the body of the pubis forms about 1/5 of the acetabulum
pubic crest ridge on the superior border of the superior ramus attachment of rectus abdominis & pyramidalis mm.
pubic tubercle process at the lateral end of pubic crest attachment point of the medial end of the inguinal ligament
superior ramus superior "limb" that passes medially from the body of the pubis articulates with the superior ramus of the opposite side at the pubic symphysis
pecten ridge on superior surface of the superior pubic ramus attachment point of the pectineal ligament
inferior ramus inferior "limb" that passes inferolaterally from the pubic symphysis articulates with the ischial ramus to form the ischiopubic ramus; attachment site for the root of the penis (clitoris)
obturator groove groove on the inferior surface of the superior pubic ramus marks the area of passage of the obturator vessels and n. in the obturator canal
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
body the part of the ischium that participates in the formation of the acetabulum it articulates with the ilium and the pubis at the acetabulum; the body of the ischium forms 2/5 of the acetabulum
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)
lesser sciatic notch the notch located between the ischial tuberosity and the ischial spine the lesser sciatic notch is converted to the lesser sciatic foramen by the sacrospinous ligament and the sacrotuberous ligament
ischial spine the spine that arises just superior to the lesser sciatic notch it is the site of attachment of the sacrospinous ligament and the site of origin of the superior gemellus m.
ilium fan-shaped bone that forms the lateral prominence of the pelvis one of three bones that form the os coxae: ilium, ischium, pubis
body the portion of the ilium that participates in the formation of the acetabulum the body of the ilium forms 2/5 of the acetabulum
iliac crest arching superior edge the ilium that forms the rim of the "fan" attachment for abdominal wall muscles
iliac fossa broad depression on the medial surface of the ilium iliac fossa is part of the false (greater) pelvis
iliac tubercle roughened area along the outer edge of the iliac crest
anterior superior iliac spine spine at the anterior end of the iliac crest lateral attachment of the inguinal ligament
posterior superior iliac spine spine at the posterior end of the iliac crest position marked by a dimpling of the skin
arcuate line ridge running from anteroinferior to posterosuperior on the inner surface of the ilium inferior boundary of the iliac fossa; marks the plane of transition from abdominal cavity to pelvic cavity
sacrum   a triangular bone that is the posterior skeletal element forming the pelvis it is formed by 5 fused vertebrae; the sacrum and two os coxae bones form the pelvis
base the superior part of the sacrum the base of the sacrum includes the articular surface for the fifth lumbar vertebra and the superior portion of the two ala
promontory a projection of the superior part of the sacrum in an anterior direction the body of the fifth lumbar vertebra sits on the sacral promontory and articulates with it through a symphysis
ala the lateral portion of the sacrum paired; it projects laterally from the body of the sacrum; it represents the fused costal and transverse processes of the first sacral vertebra
anterior sacral foramina an opening in the anterior surface of the sacrum there are four pairs; each transmits the ventral primary ramus of the respective sacral spinal nerve; branches of the lateral sacral aa. Enter the sacral canal through these openings
posterior sacral foramina an opening in the posterior surface of the sacrum there are four pairs; each transmits the dorsal primary ramus of the respective sacral spinal nerve
sacral canal the opening in the center of the sacrum it is the continuation of the vertebral canal at sacral vertebral levels
sacral hiatus an opening in the posterior surface of the sacrum in the midline it is a normal feature that results from the failure of fusion of the laminae of the fifth sacral segment (and sometimes the fourth) during development
articular surface the roughened area located on the lateral surface of the sacrum this surface articulates with the ilium in the sacroiliac articulation
body the central portion of the sacrum the body is equivalent to the bodies of the other vertebra
base the superior surface of the sacrum the base of the sacrum articulates with the fifth lumbar vertebra through an intervertebral disk
coccyx   the most inferior portion of the vertebral column the coccyx results from the fusion of the four coccygeal vertebrae; it may be a single bone or the first coccygeal vertebra may be separated from the other three; it articulates with the fifth sacral segment; coccygeal vertebrae are reduced in complexity, having no pedicles, laminae or spines
femur   the bone of the thigh the femur is the longest and strongest bone in the body
  head smooth, rounded proximal end the head of the femur articulates with the acetabulum of the pelvis
fovea capitis femoris a shallow pit in the head of the femur it is the attachment site of the ligamentum capitis femoris; a small artery for supply of the head is found within this ligament
neck the constricted area distal to the head of the femur most of the blood supply to the head of the femur courses along the surface of the neck; fractures of the neck of the femur may result in avascular necrosis of the head
greater trochanter a large process that projects superiorly from the junction of the neck and shaft of the femur the greater trochanter is the insertion site of the gluteus medius m., gluteus minimus m., piriformis m. and obturator internus m.
gluteal tuberosity a roughened area located on the posterior surface of the femur at the superior end of the lateral lip of the linea aspera it is one of the insertion sites of the gluteus maximus m.
lesser trochanter a large process that projects from the posteromedial surface of the femur just distal to neck it is the insertion site of the common tendon of the psoas major and iliacus mm. (iliopsoas m.)
trochanteric fossa a depression on the medial side of the greater trochanter on its posterior surface where the greater trochanter joins the neck it is the insertion site of the obturator internus m., superior gemellus m. and inferior gemellus m.
intertrochanteric line a ridge on the anterior surface of the femur that connects the greater and lesser trochanters it is the line of attachment of the fibrous joint capsule
intertrochanteric crest a heavy ridge on the posterior surface of the femur that connects the greater and lesser trochanters the quadratus femoris m. inserts on the intertrochanteric crest
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.
adductor tubercle a process that projects superior to the medial epicondyle of the femur it is the insertion site of the ischiocondylar part of the adductor magnus m.
medial epicondyle the enlargement of bone on the medial side of the femur just superior to the medial condyle it is the attachment site of the tibial collateral ligament of the knee joint
lateral epicondyle the enlargement of bone on the lateral side of the femur just superior to the lateral condyle it is the attachment site of the fibular collateral ligament and the site of origin of the popliteus m.
medial condyle the rounded inferior end of the femur on the medial side it articulates with the medial condyle of the tibia
lateral condyle the rounded inferior end of the femur on the lateral side it articulates with the lateral condyle of the tibia
intercondylar fossa the deep depression on the posterior surface of the femur between the condyles the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments are located here
  patellar surface the smooth anterior surface at the inferior end of the femur it articulates with the posterior surface the patella
patella   the bone that forms the knee cap the patella is a sesamoid bone in the tendon of the quadriceps femoris muscle; it provides a protective function by withstanding the grinding forces of the quadriceps femoris tendon against the patellar surface of the femur, especially in full knee flexion
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
intercondylar eminence the ridge of bone on the proximal end of the tibia that projects between the condyles the intercondylar eminence has a medial and a lateral tubercle; it is the attachment site for the cruciate ligaments, medial meniscus and lateral meniscus
tibial tuberosity the roughened protuberance on the anterior surface of the tibia located just distal to the condyles it is the attachment site of the patellar ligament, which represents the insertion of the quadriceps femoris tendon
body the long, robust shaft of the tibia the medial surface of the body of the tibia is subcutaneous throughout its length; when the shin is painfully bumped, the nerve endings are stimulated in the periosteum covering the body of the tibia
interosseous border the sharp ridge that runs longitudinally along the junction of the lateral surface and the posterior surface of the tibia the interosseous membrane attaches to the interosseous border of the tibia
soleal line a ridge of bone that descends obliquely from lateral to medial on the posterior surface of the tibia it is the site of origin of the soleus m.
medial malleolus the large bony prominence on the medial side of the ankle the medial malleolus of the tibia forms the medial side of the ankle joint; it articulates with the medial surface of the talus
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
neck the constricted portion of the fibula located just inferior to the head fractures of the neck of the fibula can injure the common fibular n.
body the long slender shaft of the fibula the interosseous membrane attaches to the entire length of the interosseous border of the fibula
interosseous border the sharp ridge that runs longitudinally along the medial surface of the fibula the interosseous membrane attaches to the interosseous border of the fibula
lateral malleolus the enlarged distal end of the fibula the lateral malleolus of the fibula forms the lateral side of the ankle joint; it articulates with the lateral surface of the talus; forcible lateral displacement of the foot can cause the fibula to fracture superior to the lateral malleolus, a condition called a Pott's fracture
tarsal bones   the bones of the ankle there are seven tarsal bones: talus, calcaneus, navicular, medial cuneiform, intermediate cuneiform, lateral cuneiform, cuboid
talus   the most proximal of the tarsal bones the talus articulates with the medial malleolus of the tibia and the lateral malleolus of the fibula to form the ankle mortise joint
  body the proximal part of the talus its superior (trochlear) part participates in the ankle joint and its inferior part articulates with the calcaneus
  trochlea the superior portion of the body of the talus that lies between the two malleoli it has a smooth articular surface; it participates in the formation of the ankle joint
head the portion of the talus that projects anteriorly it articulates with the navicular bone
neck the constricted part of the talus located proximal to the head
calcaneus   the tarsal bone which forms the heel it is the largest and strongest bone in the foot; a fracture of the calcaneus which separates the tuberosity from the body can be a debilitating injury
  calcaneal tuberosity the posterior roughened area of the calcaneus which contacts the ground during weight-bearing it is the insertion site of the calcaneal (Achilles') tendon
sustentaculum tali the shelf-like medial projection of bone located inferior to the medial malleolus it is a shelf of bone that articulates with and supports the talus; it is grooved inferiorly by the tendon of the flexor hallucis longus m.
navicular   the tarsal bone located distal to the talus and proximal to the three cuneiform bones it articulates with the head of the talus and all three cuneiform bones; it is the attachment site for an important ligament (plantar calcaneonavicular or "spring" ligament) that supports the medial longitudinal arch of the foot
cuneiform, medial   the most medial bone in the distal row of tarsal bones the cuneiform bones articulate with the navicular bone proximally and the bases of the metatarsal bones distally
cuneiform, middle the intermediate bone of the three cuneiform bones the cuneiform bones articulate with the navicular bone proximally and the bases of the metatarsal bones distally
cuneiform, lateral the bone that is located between the middle cuneiform and the cuboid bone the cuneiform bones articulate with the navicular bone proximally and the bases of the metatarsal bones distally
cuboid   the most lateral bone in the distal row of tarsal bones the cuboid bone articulates with the calcaneus proximally and the fourth and fifth metatarsal bones distally
metatarsals   the bones located between the tarsal bones and the phalanges there are five metatarsal bones in the foot
base the proximal end of the metatarsal it articulates with the distal row of tarsal bones
body the slender shaft of the metatarsal it is also known as the diaphysis
head the rounded distal end of the metatarsal it articulates with the proximal phalanx of the corresponding digit
phalanx (phalanges)   the distal two or three bones in the digits of the foot there are a total of 14 phalanges in the foot; the great toe has two phalanges (proximal and distal) and each of the other four toes has three phalanges (proximal, middle and distal); phalanx means "line of soldiers"
base the proximal end of the phalanx the base of the proximal phalanx articulates with the head of the corresponding metatarsal bone; the base of the middle or distal phalanx articulates with the head of the next most proximal phalanx
body the slender shaft of the phalanx also known as the diaphysis; the body of the distal phalanx is very short
head the distal end of the phalanx the proximal, middle and distal phalanges each have a head; the head of a proximal or middle phalanx articulates with the base of the next most distal phalanx


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.

The content of these tables has been edited for use in this course by Patrick W. Tank, Ph.D.
Copyright 2009, Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Unauthorized use is prohibited.



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