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Vastus Lateralis Muscle
Muscular System

Vastus Lateralis Muscle

Musculus vastus lateralis

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Quick Facts

Origin: Intertrochanteric line, greater trochanter, gluteal tuberosity, and lateral lip of linea aspera of femur.

Insertion: Tibial tuberosity, via tendon of quadriceps femoris muscle and patellar ligament; lateral border of patella.

Action: Extends leg at knee joint.

Innervation: Femoral nerve (L2-L4).

Arterial Supply: Deep femoral and lateral circumflex femoral arteries.

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Origin

The vastus lateralis muscle originates from the:

- superior end of the intertrochanteric line;

- anterior surface of the greater trochanter;

- gluteal tuberosity of femur;

- lateral lip of linea aspera of femur;

- adjacent intermuscular septum.

Insertion

The fibers of the vastus lateralis muscle travel inferiorly and converge with the fibers of the rectus femoris, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius muscles to form the tendon of quadriceps femoris muscle. The fibers of this tendon travel superficial to the patella, where they become continuous with the patellar ligament, which inserts onto the tibial tuberosity. Some fibers of the vastus lateralis muscle insert directly onto the lateral border of the patella.

Key Features & Anatomical Relations

The vastus lateralis muscle is the largest of the four muscles that form the quadriceps femoris muscle, the other three being the rectus femoris, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius muscles. It is a long, thick, bipennate type of skeletal muscle.

It is located:

- anterior to the long and short heads of biceps femoris muscle;

- medial to the tensor fasciae latae muscle and the iliotibial tract;

- lateral to the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius and articularis genus muscles.

Actions & Testing

The vastus lateralis muscle is involved in multiple actions:

- extends the leg at the knee joint, via the tendon of quadriceps femoris muscle and patellar ligament;

- helps stabilize the patella, via fibers that insert directly onto it.

The vastus lateralis muscle cannot be tested in isolation, therefore all four muscles of the quadriceps femoris are tested simultaneously by extending the leg at the knee joint against resistance while lying in the supine position with the hip flexed, during which the vastus lateralis muscle can be palpated (Standring, 2016).

List of Clinical Correlates

- Patellar instability

- Patellar pain

- Patellar tracking on the femur

References

Standring, S. (2016) Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. Gray's Anatomy Series 41st edn.: Elsevier Limited.

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Vastus Lateralis Muscle

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The left and right vastus lateralis muscles of each rabbit are excised.

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Complete Anatomy

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Complete Anatomy