The popliteal fossa Fig 178

The popliteal fossa is the distal continuation of the adductor canal. This 'fossa' is, in fact, a closely packed compartment which only becomes the

Pics Floor The Popliteal Fossa
Fig. 178 The popliteal fossa. (a) Superficial dissection. (b) Deep dissection. (c) Floor.

rhomboid-shaped space of anatomical diagrams when opened up at operation or by dissection. Its boundaries are:

• superolaterally—biceps tendon;

• superomedially—semimembranosus reinforced by semitendinosus;

• inferomedially and inferolaterally — the medial and lateral heads of gastrocnemius.

The roof of the fossa is deep fascia which is pierced by the small saphenous vein as this enters the popliteal vein. Its floor, from above down, is formed by:

• the popliteal surface of the femur;

• the posterior aspect of the knee joint;

• the popliteus muscle covering the upper posterior surface of the tibia. From without in, the popliteal fossa contains nerves, vein and artery. The common peroneal nerve passes out of the fossa along the medial border of the biceps tendon; the tibial nerve is first lateral to the popliteal vessels and then crosses superficially to these vessels to lie on their medial side.

The popliteal vein lies immediately superficial to the artery; the popliteal artery itself lies deepest of all in the fossa.

As well as these important structures, the fossa contains fat and the popliteal lymph nodes.

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