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Functional construction of the superficial and deep fascia system of the lower limb in man.

  • Gerlach, U J
  • Lierse, W
Published Article
Acta anatomica
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1990
PMID: 2288185


The muscular system, the connective tissue and the bones are the components of a biomechanical pelvis-lower extremity model. The occasional electrical events in the muscles were not taken into account, as they can only be measured by physiological methods. In this publication, the connective tissue of the lower extremities is examined. The connective tissue system of the thigh and leg was prepared; after removal of the muscles the so-called 'hollow' lower extremity could be studied. A topographical documentation followed, and the structure and directions of the fibers were observed with polarized light. The connective tissue systems of the lower extremities and bones form a biomechanical, effective and functional system, the bone-fascia-tendon system. The components of the connective tissue in such a system are the fascia lata, the crural fascia, the iliotibial tract, the femoral and crural intermuscular septa, and the membrana interossea. The iliotibial tract is not the sole part of this system having a tension band effect, other components--above all the lateral femoral intermuscular septum--also reduce the forces acting on the bones. Therefore, the tensile strength of the iliotibial tract has to be considered lower as supposed. The iliotibial tract is not a part of the fascia lata; it is an independent, vertically tightened tendon of the 'pelvic deltoid muscle' (gluteus maximus, tensor fasciae latae). The iliotibial tract passes over the greater trochanter like on a roller bearing. It is not attached directly to the greater trochanter and to the lateral femoral condyle, so that previous models have to be modified. The iliotibial tract glides in a fascia bag which is composed of oblique and horizontal fibers of the broad fascia. The iliotibial tract, as tendon of the pelvic deltoid muscle, continues in a lateral location into the leg where it is fixed to the lateral malleolus. The present report provides a new description of the structure of the connective tissue system of the lower extremities. The model reported complies with the laws of similarity mechanics by describing exactly the geometric, physical and functional conditions. This representation could facilitate the construction of a computer-aided, efficient, biomechanical model of the pelvis-lower extremity region considering also the complex functional circumstances, in contrast to previous models. In order to construct such a model, the data obtained by the examination of the connective tissue of the lower extremities have to be given into a data bank, which, however, has to be built up.

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