The deep layer of the tractus iliotibialis and its relevance when using the direct anterior approach in total hip arthroplasty: a cadaver study

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2017 Dec;137(12):1755-1760. doi: 10.1007/s00402-017-2820-x. Epub 2017 Oct 14.


Introduction: Surgical approaches through smaller incisions reveal less of the underlying anatomy, and therefore, detailed knowledge of the local anatomy and its variations is important in minimally invasive surgery. The aim of this study was to determine the location, extension, and histomorphology of the deep layer of the iliotibial band during minimally invasive hip surgery using the direct anterior approach (DAA).

Materials and methods: The morphology of the iliotibial tract was determined in this cadaver study on 40 hips with reference to the anterior superior iliac spine and the tibia. The deep layer of the tractus iliotibialis was exposed up to the hip-joint capsule and length and width measurements taken. Sections of the profound iliotibial tract were removed from the hips and the thickness of the sections was determined microscopically after staining.

Results: The superficial tractus iliotibialis had a length of 50.1 (SD 3.8) cm, while tensor fasciae latae total length was 18 (SD 2) cm [unattached 15 (SD 2.5) cm]. Length and width of the deep layer of the tractus iliotibialis were 10.4 (SD 1.3) × 3.3 (SD 0.6) cm. The deep iliotibial band always extended from the distal part of the tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscle to the lateral part of the hip capsule (mean maximum thickness 584 μm). Tractus iliotibialis deep layer morphology did not correlate to other measurements taken (body length, thigh length, and TFL length).

Conclusions: The length of the deep layer is dependent on the TFL, since the profound part of the iliotibial band reaches from the TFL to the hip-joint capsule. The deep layer covers the hip-joint capsule, rectus, and lateral vastus muscles in the DAA interval. To access the precapsular fat pad and the hip-joint capsule, the deep layer has to be split in all approaches that use the direct anterior interval.

Keywords: Direct anterior approach; Iliotibial band; Iliotibial tract; Minimally invasive approach; Tensor fasciae latae; Total hip arthroplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / methods*
  • Cadaver
  • Fascia / anatomy & histology
  • Fasciotomy
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery
  • Thigh