A review of the anatomy of the hip abductor muscles, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fascia lata

Clin Anat. 2012 Sep;25(6):697-708. doi: 10.1002/ca.22004. Epub 2011 Nov 22.


The hip abductor muscles have the capability to contribute to numerous actions, including pelvic stabilization during gait, and abduction and rotation at the hip joint. To fully understand the role of these muscles, as well as their involvement in hip joint dysfunction, knowledge of their anatomical structure is essential. The clinical literature suggests anatomical diversity within these muscles, and that gluteus medius (GMed) and gluteus minimus (GMin), in particular, may be comprised of compartments. This systematic review of the English literature focuses on the gross anatomy of GMed, GMin, and tensor fascia lata (TFL) muscles. Although studies of this muscle group have generated useful descriptions, comparison of results is hindered by methodological limitations. Furthermore, there is no single comprehensive anatomical investigation of all three muscles. Several aspects of the morphology of attachment sites are unknown or unclear. There is little data on fascicle orientation, the interface between fascicles and tendons, and the specific patterning of the superior gluteal nerve. Consequently, the existence of anatomical compartmentalization within the hip abductor muscles is difficult to assess. Further research of the architecture and innervation of the hip abductor muscle group is required; a better understanding of the precise anatomy of these muscles should improve our understanding of their specific functions and their contribution to the pathogenesis of disorders affecting the hip joint.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Buttocks / anatomy & histology*
  • Hip / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology