Meniscofemoral ligaments are straight bands of collagen that attach to the posterior horn of lateral meniscus and lateral part of medial femoral condyle. While some consider them one ligament with two bands others consider them as two distinct ligaments.
These ligaments are named based on their location in relation to the posterior cruciate ligament.
The anterior meniscofemoral ligament, also known as ligament of Humphrey, is anterior to PCL and the posterior meniscofemoral ligament or ligament of Wrisberg is posterior to the posterior cruciate ligament.
in about 70 % of knees, there is either anterior meniscofemoral ligament of Humphrey or posterior meniscofemoral ligament present. In 6% of knees, both ligaments will be present.
Poirier and Charpy first described it in 1892 as the third cruciate ligament.
Origin and Insertion
Anterior meniscofemoral ligament or Humphrey’s Ligament
Anterior meniscofemoral ligament extends between the posterior portion of the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus and the femur.
Anterior meniscofemoral ligament or Humphrey ligament is thinner [ <1/3 the diameter of the PCL]. It arises from the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus, runs anterior to the to the posterior cruciate ligament and inserts at the distal edge of the femoral PCL attachment.
This ligament may be confused for the PCL during arthroscopy.
Posterior meniscofemoral ligament or Wrisberg’s ligament
It is usually larger than ligament of Humphrey (up to half the diameter of the PCL diameter). It extends from the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus to medial femoral condyle and lies posterior to PCL
At the femur, it inserts at the medial part of the intercondylar notch near to insertion of the posteromedial band of the posterior cruciate ligament. This is the reason why fibers of the posterior mensicofemoral ligament and posterior cruciate ligaments sometimes intermingle. Meniscal insertion of the meniscofemoral ligament may mimic the appearance of a tear.
Functions of Meniscofemoral Ligaments
The mensicofemoral ligaments play an important role as stabilizers and protectors for the posterolateral femorotibial compartment.
They increase congruity between the mobile lateral meniscus and lateral femoral condyle during motion of the knee.
They also carry a protective role for the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus. The MFL has a totally different function during knee extension and flexion due to differently applied tension on the anterior and posterior meniscofemoral ligament.
Anterior meniscofemoral ligament is taut during flexion and lax during extension whereas posterior meniscofemoral ligament is taut during extension and lax during flexion.
The anterior meniscofemoral ligament has a supplementary role to the anterior band of the posterior cruciate ligament whereas posterior meniscofemoral ligament supplements the function of the posterior band of the posterior cruciate ligament.
Meniscofemoral ligament could act as a splint during injuries of the posterior cruciate ligament.
Meniscofemoral ligaments commonly cause a pseudotear of the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus on imaging.
Wrisberg rips are longitudinal vertical meniscal tears. They occur at the at the junction of the ligament of Wrisberg and the posterior horn of the lateral meniscus, and are commonly associated with anterior cruciate ligament tears.
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- Coulier, “Signification of the unusual delineation of the anterior meniscofemoral ligament of Humphrey during knee arthro-CT,” Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 121–128, 2009.
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