An appraisal of the short lateral rotators of the hip joint

Sarang Yoo, Irina Dedova, Nalini Pather*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The short lateral rotators (piriformis, obturator internus, superior and inferior gemelli, obturator internus, and quadratus femoris) are functionally important muscles, significantly contributing to hip joint stability. They act as "postural muscles", holding the femoral head in the acetabulum during hip movements, thus are frequently monitored in gait analysis and for muscle rehabilitation post-injury. Despite the need to precisely identify and repair these muscles for stability postoperatively, clinical complications have resulted from the inadequate and inconsistent understanding of their morphological and functional anatomy. Furthermore, the short lateral rotators have complex entheses (osteotendinous insertions on bone) and may be subject to overuse injury in sport. This study aims to review the reported morphology of the short lateral rotators in order to ascertain whether discrepancies exist in our understanding of these muscles, and if further investigation is required to aid in gait analysis, clinical management of hip pathologies, and prevention of overuse injuries. Following a literature search strategy, 59 primary references were retrieved from three databases, with additional 26 anatomical textbooks selected for critical evaluation. Numerous inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the anatomical descriptions of the attachments, patterns of innervation and actions exist, and often insufficiently supported by primary findings. There is also a paucity of information regarding the architectural pattern of the muscles, which would be useful in clarifying the function of these dynamic stabilizers of the hip joint. A better anatomical understanding of these muscles will better inform hip reconstruction and lead to improved surgical outcomes by reducing post-operative complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)800-812
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • short lateral rotators
  • hip joint
  • muscle architecture
  • stabilizers
  • function


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