Popliteal fossa

The popliteal fossa (sometimes referred to as hough,[1] or kneepit in analogy to the cubital fossa) is a shallow depression located at the back of the knee joint. The bones of the popliteal fossa are the femur and the tibia. Like other flexion surfaces of large joints (groin, armpit, cubital fossa and essentially the anterior part of the neck), it is an area where blood vessels and nerves pass relatively superficially, and with an increased number of lymph nodes.

Popliteal fossa
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Back view of a human. Locations of the popliteal fossae are circled in blue
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Popliteal fossa of the right leg.
LatinFossa poplitea
Anatomical terminology



The boundaries of the fossa are:[1]

  Medial Lateral
Superior the semimembranosus & semitendinosus muscles[2] the biceps femoris muscle[2]
Inferior the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle[2] the lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle and plantaris muscle[2]


Moving from superficial to deep structures, the roof is formed by:

  1. the skin.[1]
  2. the superficial fascia.[1] This contains the small saphenous vein, the terminal branch of the posterior cutaneous nerve of the thigh, posterior division of the medial cutaneous nerve, lateral sural cutaneous nerve, and medial sural cutaneous nerve.[1]
  3. the popliteal fascia.[1][2]


The floor is formed by:

  1. the popliteal surface of the femur.[2]
  2. the capsule of the knee joint and the oblique popliteal ligament.[2]
  3. strong fascia covering the popliteus muscle.[2]


Structures within the popliteal fossa include, (from superficial to deep):[1]

It is of note that the common fibular nerve also begins at the superior angle of the popliteal fossa.[4]

Additional imagesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Buckenmaier III C; Bleckner L (2008). "Chapter 20: Popliteal nerve block". The Military Advanced Regional Anesthesia and Analgesia Handbook. Rockville, Maryland: Defense & Veterans Pain Management Initiative (DVPMI). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-02-20. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Nichols, Jennifer S.; Ashford, Robert U. (2013-04-01). "Surgical anatomy & pathology of the popliteal fossa". Orthopaedics and Trauma. 27 (2): 113–117. doi:10.1016/j.mporth.2013.02.011. ISSN 1877-1327.
  3. ^ a b c Clinically Oriented Anatomy by Moore, 6th edition
  4. ^ "The Popliteal Fossa - Borders - Contents - TeachMeAnatomy".

External linksEdit