Isolated femoral avulsion of the popliteus tendon: a systematic review of the literature


popliteus tendon, avulsion, posterolateral corner

Published online: Aug 12 2023

Steven HEYLEN, Patrick DEMEY, Zakaria MOUSATI

Department of Trauma and Orthopaedics, Heilig Hart Ziekenhuis, Lier, Belgium


The popliteus tendon is an important part of the posterolateral corner of the knee. Isolated injuries to the posterolateral corner are very rare, as most injuries occur in multiligamentous knee trauma. Purely isolated popliteus tendon injuries are even more rare. There is very little evidence for treatment of isolated popliteus tendon avulsion injuries. The aim of this systematic review is to report on all publications regarding isolated popliteus tendon avulsion injuries and hopefully provide some guidance for future treatment algorithms. A systematic review of the literature was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). Studies were included if they documented isolated popliteus tendon avulsion injuries. Exclusion criteria were studies with popliteus injuries in combination with other knee ligamentous injuries and popliteus tendon injuries other than femoral avulsion injuries. Twenty-eight studies were included which mentioned in total 38 patients with isolated popliteus tendon avulsion injuries. 24 patients (63%) were treated operatively. 3 (8%) patients were diagnosed arthroscopically but did not receive any surgical treatment. 9 patients (24%) were treated conservatively. In two publications, there was no mention of treatment. We found no clear recommendations in the literature for treatment of this rare injury.