The Kaplan Fibers of the Iliotibial Band Can Be Identified on Routine Knee Magnetic Resonance Imaging Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: The Kaplan fibers (KFs) of the iliotibial band have been suggested to play a role in anterolateral rotational instability of the knee, particularly in the setting of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture. Description of the normal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) anatomy of the KFs may facilitate subsequent investigation into the MRI signs of injury. Purpose: To assess if the KF complex can be identified on 3-T MRI using standard knee protocols. Study Design: Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 3. Methods: 3-T MRI scans of 50 ACL-intact knees were reviewed independently by a musculoskeletal radiologist and 2 orthopaedic surgeons. Identification of the KFs was based on radiological diagnostic criteria developed a priori. Identification of the KFs in the sagittal, coronal, and axial planes was recorded. Interobserver reliability was assessed using the Kappa statistic. Detailed anatomy including distance to the joint line and relationship to adjacent structures was recorded. Results: The mean patient age was 43 years (range, 15-81 years), 58% were male, and 50% were right knees. The KFs were identified by at least 2 reviewers on the sagittal images in 96% of cases, on the axial images in 76% of cases, and on the coronal images in 4% of cases. The mean distance from the KF distal femoral insertion to the lateral joint line was 50.1 mm (SD, 6.6 mm) and the mean distance to the lateral gastrocnemius tendon origin was 10.8 mm (SD, 8.6 mm). The KFs were consistently identified immediately anterior to the superior lateral geniculate artery on sagittal imaging. Interobserver reliability for identification was best in the sagittal plane (Kappa 0.5) and worst in the coronal plane (Kappa 0.1). Conclusion: The KF complex can be identified on routine MRI sequences in the ACL-intact knee; however, there is low to moderate interobserver reliability. Imaging in the sagittal plane had the highest rate of identification and the coronal plane the lowest. There is a consistent relationship between the most distal KF femoral attachment and the lateral joint line, lateral gastrocnemius tendon, and superior lateral geniculate artery.

publication date

  • 2019