Three-Dimensional Muscle-Tendon Geometry after Rectus Femoris Tendon Transfer

Deanna S. Asakawa, Silvia S. Blemker, George T Rab, Anita Bagley, Scott L. Delp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Rectus femoris tendon transfer is performed in patients with cerebral palsy to improve knee flexion during walking. This procedure involves detachment of the muscle from its insertion into the quadriceps tendon and reattachment to one of the knee flexor muscles. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the muscle-tendon geometry and to assess the formation of scar tissue between the rectus femoris and adjacent structures. Methods: Magnetic resonance images of the lower extremities were acquired from five subjects after bilateral rectus femoris tendon transfer. A three-dimensional computer model of the musculoskeletal geometry of each of the ten limbs was created from these images. Results: The three-dimensional paths of the rectus femoris muscles after transfer demonstrated that the muscle does not follow a straight course from its origin to its new insertion. The typical muscle-tendon path included an angular deviation; this deviation was sharp (>35°) in seven extremities. In addition, scar tissue between the transferred rectus femoris and the underlying muscles was visible on the magnetic resonance images. Conclusions: The angular deviations in the rectus femoris muscle-tendon path and the presence of scar tissue between the rectus femoris and the underlying muscles suggest that the beneficial effects of rectus femoris tendon transfer are derived from reducing the effects of the rectus femoris muscle as a knee extensor rather than from converting the muscle to a knee flexor. These findings clarify our understanding of the mechanism by which rectus femoris tendon transfer improves knee flexion. Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level IV (case series [no, or historical, control group]).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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