The anterolateral complex of the knee: a pictorial essay

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2017 Apr;25(4):1009-1014. doi: 10.1007/s00167-017-4449-2. Epub 2017 Feb 23.


Injuries to the anterolateral complex of the knee can result in increased rotatory knee instability. However, to diagnose and treat patients with persistent instability properly, surgeons need to understand the multifactorial genesis as well as the complex anatomy of the anterolateral aspect of the knee in its entirety. While recent research focused primarily on one structure (anterolateral ligament-ALL), the purpose of this pictorial essay is to provide a detailed layer-by-layer description of the anterolateral complex of the knee, consisting of the iliotibial band with its superficial, middle, deep, and capsulo-osseous layer as well as the anterolateral joint capsule. This may help surgeons to not only understand the anatomy of this particular part of the knee, but may also provide guidance when performing extra-articular procedures in patients with rotatory knee instability. Level of evidence V.

Keywords: Anterior cruciate ligament; Anterolateral; Anterolateral complex; Capsulo-osseous layer; Iliotibial band; Knee; Pivot shift.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Fascia / anatomy & histology*
  • Fascia / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Ligaments, Articular / anatomy & histology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology