Muscular architecture of the popliteus muscle and the basic science implications

Addison Wood, Morgan Boren, Taylor Dodgen, Russell Wagner, Rita M. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The function of the popliteus muscle is largely treated as a static stabilizer and has a lack of basic muscular architectural data to enable study of its dynamic function. A large volume of literature supports its static function and the essential need for reconstruction in the posterolateral knee when injured to restore knee stability. Hypothesis/purpose: We hypothesize that the popliteus muscle is more significant as a dynamic presence in the knee. Methods: A collection of popliteus architectural data was collected from 28 cadaver specimens (mean (SD) 76 years (11)). Physiological cross-sectional area of the popliteus and semimembranosus muscles were calculated from muscle volume and fiber length to power future muscle force prediction models. Posterior knee muscle trajectories were measured with respect to the longitudinal axis of the tibia. A 2-tailed T test was performed. Results: Significant differences between males and females were found for both the popliteus (p = 1.1E − 05) and semimembranosus (p = 2.0E–05) muscle volumes. Significant differences between males and females were also found in PCSA for the popliteus (p = 0.005) and semimembranosus (p = 4.1E–05) muscles. There were no significant differences in fiber length, overall muscle length (with tendon removed), age, and orientation. Conclusion: Further consideration should be given to include the popliteus muscle as a dynamic entity in the knee given its mechanical properties, trajectory, and prior biomechanical evidence showing when and how it is activated. The present study provides data that may shape future directions of research and treatment with regard to posterolateral corner injuries and ligamentous balancing of the knee.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-314
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Kinematics
  • Knee kinematics
  • Muscle mechanics
  • Popliteus
  • Posterior knee
  • Posterolateral corner


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