Two doctors at University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium have discovered a new ligament, the anterolateral ligament, which has been linked to anterior cruciate ligament, more commonly known as the ACL.
Building on work done by a French surgeon in 1879, Dr. Steven Claes and Dr. Johan Bellemans discovered the ligament in the front of the knee, and detailed their findings in the Journal of Anatomy.
Using macroscopic dissection techniques, the two doctors studied 41 cadaveric knees and found the ALL in all but one knee.
ACL tears are common in athletes playing sports with high demands on the knees, such as soccer, basketball and football.
Even after successful surgery, some patients with repaired ACLs continue to experience buckling of the knee during intense physical activity.
In the past, this “pivot shift” confused doctors, leading them to suspect that some part of the equation was unknown. With the discovery of the ALL, continued pivot shifts following ACL repair can be explained.
The discovery could signal a breakthrough in the treatment of ACL tears and further knowledge about the human body.