Hasn't the knee been thoroughly mapped? Perhaps. However, the following bold headline reverberated throughout the allied health community in 2013: "Doctors Identify a New Knee Ligament."
Here's the scoop: Knee surgeons in Belgium dissected 41 knee joints from human cadavers after suspecting that something was missing in the treatment of anterior cruciate ligament tears (Claes et al. 2013). Not all knee-surgery patients had responded favorably, and doctors were curious about a "pearly, resistant fibrous band" that originated at the outside, front portion of the thighbone and continued to the shinbone. French surgeon Paul Segond had identified this band in 1879 and had theorized that a fifth ligament was needed to truly stabilize the knee. However, Segond didn't officially name the band, and somehow its existence faded into obscurity (Reynolds 2013).
The curious knee surgeons identified this "new" ligament as the anterolateral ligament (ALL), separate from the iliotibial band, linking the femur and tibia.
Are We Growing New Ligaments?
While the media had a lot of fun with this news, many other knee specialists were quick to point out that this was more of a rediscovery than a discovery. Robert LaPrade, MD, PhD, a complex knee and sports medicine specialist in Vail, Colorado, observed that not only had Segond pinpointed the ALL's existence, but the ligament had been called other names over the years. LaPrade congratulated the scientists for their "more detailed description" of the band and wrote that he and others "looked forward to further anatomic, clinically relevant biomechanical, MRI and clinical outcome studies to define if it does have importance for providing knee stability" (LaPrade 2013).
Take-home message: It's important that fitness professionals stay up to date with current research about anatomy and biomechanics, as our knowledge base continues to expand and be upgraded.
Claes, S., et al. 2013. Anatomy of the anterolateral ligament of the knee. Journal of Anatomy, 223 (4), 321—28.
LaPrade, R. 2013. What is the anterolateral ligament of the knee? Accessed Jan. 18, 2017. http://drrobertlaprademd.com/what–is–the–anterolateral–ligament–of–the–knee/.
Reynolds, G. 2013. Doctors identify a new knee ligament. The New York Times. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/13/a–surprising–discovery–a–new–knee–ligament/.
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