Human Biology

This One Ligament Proves We're Not Done Mapping The Body

Humans aren't done exploring the world's oceans or outer space, but we're definitely done mapping out the human body. Right? The 2013 discovery of an unknown ligament in the knee proves that we still don't know everything about human anatomy. In 1879, a French surgeon named Paul Segond theorized that the knee couldn't possibly be stable with only the four ligaments currently known. He thought there must be another one, and wrote about a band he observed in his dissections that could be that very ligament. He failed to name his discovery, however, and it was soon forgotten. Decades later, Dr. Steven Claes and Dr. Johann Bellemans at the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium began to have similar suspicions about the knee, since many patients who had undergone surgery to reconstruct their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) still had issues stabilizing their knees after that ligament healed. The doctors dissected the knees of 41 cadavers, and sure enough, they found it: a narrow band of tissue linking the femur and the tibia on the outer front portion of the knee. They named it the anterolateral ligament, or ALL. The team suspects that the complications that occurred after ACL surgeries were due to undetected injuries in the ALL that were never treated.

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Written by Curiosity Staff August 5, 2016

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