Scientists have discovered a previously unknown ligament in the human knee. The ligament is believed to play a critical role in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.
Many patients with ACL injuries continue to experience problems with pivot-shift motions and feeling as though their knees “give way” during certain movements. To understand why, two surgeons from the University Hospital Leuven in Belgium, Dr. Steven Claes and Dr. Johan Bellemans, have been performing ongoing research into serious ACL injuries.
They came across findings published by a French surgeon in 1879 named Segond, who described the presence of a “pearly, resistant fibrous band” in the front side (anterolateral aspect) of the human knee. While there has been mention of this ligament by other surgeons since, there were no clear anatomical descriptions of the ligament, which has remained largely an enigma.
The Belgian surgeons have confirmed the existence of this ligament, now named the anterolateral ligament (ALL), in a new major cadaver study. After dissecting 41 cadaver knees, the ALL was located in 97% of cases. Additional research has suggested that injury to the ALL causes the “giving way” of knees common in patients with ACL injuries.
Claes and Bellemans are now conducting studies into methods of correcting ALL injuries. The breakthrough research could significantly improve treatment for knee injuries common in basketball, football, and soccer players. Of course, prevention should be the first line of defense against knee injuries in athletes. Research suggests that that improving your landing strategy while jumping could lower your risk of ACL injuries. Another study showed that regular chiropractic care could reduce your risk of lower-limb injuries.
Claes, et al. Anatomy of the anterolateral ligament of the knee. Jounral of Anamtomy 2013; 223(4): 321-328.
New ligament discovered in the human knee- KU Leuven. Press release. November 5, 2013. http://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/new-ligament-discovered-in-the-human-knee.