November 2013

Anterolateral knee ligament ‘discovery’ makes headlines, but is not really new

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

The media buzz over the apparent discovery of a new knee ligament announced in early November faded quickly as experts pointed out that the finding was not exactly new.

Researchers from University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium described what they called the “anterolateral ligament,” connecting the femur with the anterolateral tibia, in the October issue of the Journal of Anatomy. A press release, issued by the university and picked up by numerous media outlets around the world, claimed the ligament was previously unknown.

However, sports medicine experts subsequently noted that the same term had been used by earlier researchers to describe the same structure. Most recently, in the January 2012 issue of Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthro­scopy, French investigators reported having identified the anterolateral ligament in 30 consecutive patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty and described it in more detail based on analysis of 10 cadaver knees.


Claes S, Vereecke E, Maes M, et al. Anatomy of the anterolateral ligament of the knee. J Anat 2013;223(4):321-328.

Vincent JP, Magnussen RA, Gezmez F, et al. The anterolateral ligament of the human knee: An anatomic and histologic study. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2012;20(1):147-152.

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