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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus I: Muscular System: Alphabetical Listing of Muscles: P: Popliteus

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus I: Muscular System: Alphabetical Listing of Muscles: P


Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

Popliteus represents the pronator element of the flexor-pronator mass and corresponds to the upper part of the head of pronator teres of the arm. A rare variation is the presence of a second head, or accessory slip (popliteus minor [Calori,Wood] or popliteus biceps [Gruber]), which may arise from the upper and posterior part of the lateral condyle of the femur on the medial side of plantaris, from the lateral head of gastrocnemius or, in some cases, from the posterior ligament of the knee joint. It is inserted onto the medial side of the oblique line and the medial border of the tibia along with the medial fibers of popliteus. Crossing the the popliteal space, this accessory slip may lie in front or behind the blood vessels and it may comprise blood flow.


Peroneotibialis is a small muscle that arises from the medial side of the head of the fibula, crosses the interosseous space deep to popliteus, and inserts onto the upper end of the soleal line or into the tendinous arch of the soleus. accessory slips of popliteus may radiate both proximally and distally: to the posterior wall of the knee joint capsule, to the head of the fibula, and/or to the tibia at the level of insertion of the posterior cruciate ligament.

Macalister repported the variarions of popliteus as follows:

1. The muscle has been described as doubled (Fabricus, 1687);
2. Its absence has been reported by Ringhoffer in a deformed foot;
3. A small superior popliteus, arising from the lateral condyle, and above the popliteus muscle, to which it is united, and inserted into the upper part of the tibia, was seen by Calori;
4. A sesamoid bone has been found in its tendon;
5. Slips from semimembranosus have been found inserted into the fascia over this muscle.

Syn.: m. subpopliteus, Kniekehlenmuskel.

Image 226

Doubled popliteus.
from Calori, 1866.

Image 108

Popliteus Biceps.
from Gruber, 1875.

Image 158

Doubled Popliteus.
from Gruber, 1877.


Calori, L. (1866) Di alcune nuovi muscoli sopranumerarii degli arti. Mem. R. Accad. Sci. Istituto di Bologna. S. 2. 6:137-147.

Gruber, W. (1875) Über den Musculus popliteus biceps. Arch. Anat. Physiol. Wissen Med. 1875:599-605.

Gruber, W. (1878) Nachträge über den Musculus peroneotibialis. Arch. Anat. Physiol. Wissen. Med. 1878:481-485.

Hadziselmovic, V. and N. Gluhbegovic. (1969) Vergleichende anatomische Untersuchungen des Musculus popliteus. Anat. anz. 125:388-399.

Henle, J. (1871) Handbuch der Muskellehre des menschen, in Handbuch der systematischen Anatomie des Menschen. Verlag von Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn, Braunschweig.

Higgins, H. (1895) The popliteus muscle. J. Anat Physiol. 29:569-573.

Last, R.J. (1950) The popliteus muscle and the lateral meniscus. J. Bone Joint Surg. B 32:93-99.

Lovejoy, Jr., F.J. and T.P. Harden. (1971) Popliteus muscle in man. Aunt. Rec. 169:727-730.

Macalister, A. (1875) Observations on muscular anomalies in the human anatomy. Third series with a catalogue of the principal muscular variations hitherto published. Trans. Roy. Irish Acad. Sci. 25:1-130.

Parsons, F.G. (1919) Note on abnormal muscle in the popliteal space. J. Anat. 54:170.

Wagstaffe, W.W. (1872) Description of an accessory muscle in connection with the popliteus. J. Anat. Physiol. 6:214-215.

Wood, J. (1868) Variations in human myology observed during the winter session of 1867-68 at King's College, London. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B 17:483-525.

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