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Influence of a fabella in the gastrocnemius muscle on the common fibular nerve in Japanese subjects


Correspondence to: Yoko Tabira, Department of Anatomy, Kurume University School of Medicine, 67 Asahi-machi, Kurume-City, Fukuoka 830-0011, Japan. E-mail:


The fabella is a sesamoid bone located in the proximal tendon of the gastrocnemius muscle. In rare cases, its presence may lead to a variety of clinical problems, including fabella syndrome and common fibular (CF) nerve palsy. The purpose of this study was to analyze the morphology of the fabella and CF nerve and discuss the influence of any existing fabellae on the size of the CF nerve. The morphology of the fabella and CF nerve in the popliteal region of the lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle was investigated in 102 knees of 51 Japanese cadavers. The maximum circumference of the thigh, knee, and calf and the frequency, position, and size of the fabella were measured. In addition, the CF nerve width and thickness were measured proximal to the fabellar region and again as the CF nerve passed posterior, lateral, or medial to the region. A fabella was observed in 70 knees (68.6%). The CF nerve adjacent to the fabella was significantly wider and thinner than in the region proximal to the fabella (P < 0.001). In cases in which a bony fabella was present, there was a significant relationship between the thickness of the CF nerve and the circumference of the thigh and knee. The following factors were observed to contribute to the presence of a fabella causing alterations in the size of the CF nerve: a bony fabella, a CF nerve path posterior or lateral to the fabella, and subjects with a thin physique and bony fabella. Clin. Anat. 26:893–902, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.