Popliteal fossa

Poplietal fossa


  • Popliteal fossa is a shallow diamond shaped fossa at the back of the knee.
  • This corresponds to the triangular shaped Cubital fossa in the forearm.
  • Most importantly it is felt best during the Semi-flexed position of the knee joint.


  • It is a diamond-shaped depression located behind the knee joint.
  • Moreover behind the lower part of the Femur and upper part of the Tibia.

Boundaries of Popliteal Fossa:

Superolaterally :

  • Biceps femoris.


  • Semitendinosus and the Semimembranosus.

Moreover Gracilis, Sartorius and Adductor magnus supplements the superomedial boundary.

Inferolaterally :

  • Lateral head of Gastrocnemius.

Moreover Planatris also bounds the fossa inferolaterally.


  • Medial head of Gastrocnemius.


Roof of the fossa is formed by Deep Fascia/Popliteal fossa.

The superficial fascia over the roof contains the following structures.They are:-

  • Small saphenous vein and cutaneous nerves.
  • Three cutaneous nerves.They are,
    • Firstly Terminal part of posterior cutaneous nerve of thigh
    • Secondly Posterior division of the medial cutaneous nerve of thigh.
    • Finally the Peroneal or sural communicating nerve.


From above downwards,

  • Firstly, Popliteal surface of Femur.
  • Secondly, Capsule of the Knee joint and the oblique popliteal ligament.
  • Finally, Popliteal fascia covering the Popliteus.

Contents of the Popliteal fossa:

  • Firstly- Popliteal artery, Popliteal veins and their branches and tributaries respectively.
  • Secondly-Tibial nerve and its branches.
  • Most importanly, Common peroneal nerve and its branches.
  • The posterior cutaneous nerve of thigh.
  • Genicular branch of the Obturator nerve.
  • The Popliteal lymph nodes.
  • Finally-Fat.
  • The popliteal vessels and the tibial nerve are arranged one over the other.
  • Structures arranged from deep to superficial are
  • Firstly, Popliteal .
  • Secondly, Popliteal vein.
  • Finally, Tibial nerve.

Relations of the structures in the Popliteal fossa:

Upper part:

From medial to lateral side: Artery, Vein, Nerve.

Middle part:

From behind forwards: Nerve, Vein, and Artery.

Lower part:

From medial to lateral side: Nerve, Vein and Artery.

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