Posterior Compartment of the Thigh

Muscles

As a group, the muscles of the posterior compartment of the thigh are called the hamstrings. To be called a hamstring, the muscle must arise from the ischial tuberosity. The hamstrings are:
  • biceps femoris (long head)
  • semimembranosus
  • semitendinosus
  • hamstring part of the adductor magnus (not shown in the diagram)

Nerves

The muscles of the posterior compartment of the thigh are innervated by the tibial (medial) part of the sciatic nerve.

The short head of the biceps is innervated by a branch of the common peroneal nerve.

Arteries

The arteries of the posterior compartment of the thigh arise from two major arteries:
  • inferior gluteal (upper posterior compartment)
  • perforating branches of the profunda femoris

Table of Muscles

Muscle Origin Insertion Action Nerve
Supply
biceps femoris, long head ischial tuberosity head of fibula flexes and laterally rotates leg, extends thigh tibial part of sciatic nerve
biceps femoris, short head shaft of femur head of fibula flexes and laterally rotates leg common peroneal nerve
semitendinosus ischial tuberosity upper part medial surface of tibia flexes and medially rotates leg; extends thigh tibial part of sciatic
semimembranosus ischial tuberosity medial condyle of tibia;
forms oblique popliteal ligament
flexes and medially roates leg; extends thigh tibial part of sciatic
adductor magnus (hamstring part) ischial tuberosity adductor tubercle of femur extends thigh tibial part of sciatic

Popliteal Fossa

The popliteal fossa is an anatomical region behind the knee with certain identifiable boundaries.
Start by identifying the bony background of the popliteal fossa and then visualizing the boundaries. The bones of the popliteal fossa are:
  • femur
    • medial condyle
    • lateral condyle
  • tibia
    • medial condyle
    • lateral condyle
The boundaries are:
  • superior and medial - semitendinosus (ST)
  • inferior and medial - medial head of gastrocnemius (MG)
  • superior and lateral - biceps femoris (B)
  • inferior and lateral - lateral head of gastrocnemius (LG)
The muscles and contents of the popliteal fossa are:
    Muscles
  • semitendinosus
  • biceps femoris
  • medial head of gastrocnemius
  • lateral head of gastrocnemius
    Arteries
  • popliteal artery - continuation of femoral artery
    • superior medial and lateral genicular arteries
    • inferior medial and lateral genicular arteries
    Nerves
    • tibial nerve
    • common peroneal nerve
    With the nerves and arteries removed and the muscles reflected, you now identify the structures making up the floor of the popliteal fossa:
    • posterior surface of femur
    • posterior surface of tibia
    • oblique popliteal ligament
    • popliteus muscle

    Table of Muscles



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