Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy

, Volume 29, Issue 8, pp 611–616 | Cite as

Anatomical study of the fabella, fabellar complex and its clinical implications

  • Tomokazu KawashimaEmail author
  • Hiroyuki Takeishi
  • Sayaka Yoshitomi
  • Matsuri Ito
  • Hiroshi Sasaki
Original Article


The fabella has been mainly studied using imaging methods but there are less research reports on the gross anatomical studies. We performed this anatomical study of the fabella and its surrounding structures with functional implications using 150 heads of the gastrocnemius muscles of 75 knees from 39 Japanese cadavers. This study is the direct representation of the human fabella and its functional implications. We observed 99 fabellae (66.0%) including 44 complete bony fabellae (29.3%). Of these bony fabellae, 43 (97.7%) were located in the lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle with its surrounding structures and were positioned only on the lateral condyle of the femur. Moreover, the cartilage and bony fabellae, especially on the lateral side, contributed to the fabella complex with its surrounding muscles and ligaments and formed small articular cavity by cooperating with the femoral condyle. Although the human fabella is considered as appearing in the fabella complex with ageing and it possibly induces clinical symptoms, the fabella may play an important role as a stabilizer between the fabella complex and the femoral condyle.


Fabella Fabella complex Knee Anatomy Sesamoid bone 



This study was supported by grants from the Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology (MEXT) (No. 16790804, 2004–2006 and No. 19790985, 2007–2009), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) core-to-core program HOPE (2005–2007).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomokazu Kawashima
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hiroyuki Takeishi
    • 1
  • Sayaka Yoshitomi
    • 1
  • Matsuri Ito
    • 1
  • Hiroshi Sasaki
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, School of MedicineTokyo Women’s Medical UniversityTokyoJapan

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