Surprise! New Ligament Identified in the Knee

Just when you thought you knew everything there is to know about the ligaments and tendons of the knee, two Belgian knee surgeons have discovered a previously enigmatic ligament in the front of the knee. Known as the anterolateral ligament (ALL), this newly identified ligament may help provide greater insight to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in the knee.

Even after successful ACL surgery and rehabilitation, some patients with repaired ACLs feel like their knees “give way” during activity, also called “pivot shift.” The two orthopaedic surgeons had been conducting research to find out why, and a broad cadaver study and further research have revealed that the giving way or pivot shift that occurs in patients with an ACL tear is caused by an injury to the ALL ligament.

One of the most common knee injuries, ACL injuries frequently occur among athletes in sports that require a great deal of pivoting — sports like soccer, basketball, and skiing. The discovery could signal a breakthrough in the way ACL injuries are approached and treated, possibly resulting in better outcomes for those who have experienced an ACL injury but have had difficulty recovering fully.

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