Anatomy of the anterior and medial thigh

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Anatomy of the anterior and medial thigh

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Figure 1: Anterior view of muscles of the anterior and medial thigh. A. Superficial muscles. B. Deep muscles.
Figure 2: Medial view of muscles of the anterior and medial thigh.
Figure 3: Contents of the femoral triangle.
Figure 4: Vasculature of the anterior and medial thigh. A. Arteries and B. Veins.
Figure 5: Nerves of the anterior and medial thigh.
Anterior Thigh Muscles
  • Superior ramus of the pubis
  • Pectineal line of the femur
  • Femoral nerve
  • Obturator nerve
  • Adducts the thigh
  • Flexes the thigh
  • Medially rotates the thigh
  • Iliac fossa
  • Ala of sacrum
  • Lip of iliac crest
  • Anterior sacroiliac ligaments
  • Lesser trochanter of femur
  • Femoral nerve
  • Flexes the thigh at the hip joint
  • Flexes the lumbar part of the vertebral column
  • Maintains normal lumbar lordosis
Psoas major
  • Lateral sides of T12-L5 vertebrae & IV discs
  • Transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae
  • Anterior rami of L1-L3
Psoas minor
  • Lateral sides of T12-L1 vertebrae & IV discs
  • Pectineal line
  • Iliopectineal eminence
  • Anterior rami of L2-L3
  • Anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS)
  • Superior part of the medial tibia
  • Femoral nerve
  • Flexes both the hip and the knee
  • Weakly abducts the thigh and rotates it laterally
  • Brings lower limbs into the cross-legged position
Quadriceps femoris
Rectus femoris
  • Anterior inferior iliac spine (AIIS)
  • Ilium
  • Common tendinous & independent attachments to patella
  • Indirect attachment via patellar ligament to tibial tuberosity
  • Femoral nerve
  • Extends the leg at the knee

    Rectus femoris:
  • Flexes hip

Vastus lateralis
  • Greater trochanter & lateral lip of the linea aspera 
Vastus medialis
  • Inter-trochanteric line & medial lip of the linea aspera
Vastus intermedius
  • Anterior & lateral surfaces of the shaft of the femur
Medial Thigh Muscles
Obturator externus
  • External surface of Obturator membrane 
  • Margins of obturator foramen
  • Trochanteric fossa of the femur
  • Obturator nerve
  • Laterally rotates the thigh
Adductor brevis
  • Body and inferior ramus of the pubis
  • Pectineal line & proximal linea aspera 
  • Anterior branches of the Obturator nerve
  • Adducts the thigh
Adductor longus
  • Body of the pubis
  • Middle third of linea aspera
Adductor magnus
Superior segment
  • Inferior rami of pubis & ischium
Inferior segment
  • Ischial tuberosity
Superior segment
  • Gluteal tuberosity
  • Linea aspera
  • Medial supracondylar line of the femur
Inferior segment
  • Adductor tubercle of the femur
Superior segment
  • Posterior division of Obturator nerve
Inferior segment
  • Tibial division of the sciatic nerve
Superior segment
  • Adducts and flexes the thigh
Inferior segment
  • Extends the thigh
  • Body and inferior ramus of the pubis
  • Superior part of the medial surface of the tibia
  • Obturator nerve
  • Adduct the thigh
  • Flexes the thigh and the knee
  • Medially rotates the thigh
  • Stabilizes medial aspect of the knee in extension

Memory Anchors and Partner Content


The thigh is the part of the lower limb located between the hip and the knee, and it can be divided into anterior, medial and posterior compartments that surround the femur. These compartments are formed by the intermuscular septa that originate on the inner surface of the fascia lata and attach to the linea aspera of the femur.

And, more importantly, each compartment contains its own muscles, as well as blood vessels and nerves. Each muscle in the three compartments has a proximal origin and distal insertion, a neurovascular supply, and a specific action on the joints of the lower limb.

So, the anterior compartment, which is the largest one, includes the anterior thigh muscles, which can function as flexors of the hip and extensors of the knee. First, the flexors of the hip include the pectineus, iliopsoas, and sartorius.

The pectineus is an almost rectangular muscle located in the anterior part of the superomedial portion of the thigh, and it’s often composed of a superficial and deep layer. It originates on the superior ramus of the pubis and inserts on the pectineal line of the femur, just inferior to the lesser trochanter.

Now, this muscle has a lot of nerve, mainly because of its dual nerve supply. One supply is from the femoral nerve, and the second supply is from a branch of the obturator nerve. Finally, the pectineus has 3 main actions - it adducts, flexes, and medially rotates the thigh. This is one muscle, two nerves, and three actions!

Second, the iliopsoas is the most powerful of the hip flexors. It has most of its mass located in the posterior wall of the abdomen and greater pelvis. Actually, it consists of two parts. Its broad lateral part is called the iliacus muscle, which arises from the floor of the iliac fossa, ala of the sacrum, inner lip of the iliac crest, and anterior sacroiliac ligaments.


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