Knee ligament gets a closer look

Detailed study of a fibrous band of tissue along the front side of the joint offers hope for injury recovery

The ALL, or anterolateral ligament, is a band of fibrous tissue found in the human knee that could be important for full recovery from ACL injuries.

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Our knees have an often-overlooked ligament that could be essential to recovering from injury.

Called the ALL, or anterolateral ligament, the band of fibrous tissue has always existed in humans and surgeons have seen it before, but the ligament has not been studied in great detail until now. A team of doctors dissected the knees of 41 human cadavers and looked at the parts of the joint under a microscope. All but one of the cadaver knees had the ligament, which connects the femur and tibia leg bones, the team reports in the October Journal of Anatomy.

Based on the position of the band of tissue, injury — but not repair — of the ALL could explain why some of the roughly 100,000 people who have ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, reconstructions each year in the United States still experience their knees giving out during activity.


 

The newly identified anterolateral ligament, or ALL, runs along the front side of the human knee. S. Claes et al/Journal of Anatomy 2013

Editor’s note: The headline and story were updated November 11, 2013 to clarify the new information published about the ALL.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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