Author(s): Erdoes LS, Devine JJ, Bernhard VM, Baker MR, Berman SS,
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Abstract PURPOSE: Positional popliteal artery obstruction is believed to be an important factor contributing to popliteal artery entrapment syndromes. This study was undertaken to define the positional anatomy and physiologic condition of the vessels in the popliteal fossa in groups of highly trained and normally active young men and women. We postulate that at least some symptom-free individuals can occlude the popliteal artery with leg positioning. METHODS: Seventy-two limbs were evaluated in 36 subjects. Symptom-free subjects were recruited in four groups: normally active men, normally active women, male competitive runners, and female competitive runners. All subjects underwent noninvasive testing that included resting segmental limb pressures and Doppler waveforms and color-flow duplex imaging with the leg in the neutral position and then with knee extension with active and passive dorsiflexion and plantar flexion of the foot. Subjects unable to occlude the popliteal artery with positioning were then exercised, and studies were repeated. Magnetic resonance imaging, with magnetic resonance angiography, was conducted on 14 subjects, with each leg studied in the neutral position and with active positioning. RESULTS: Positional popliteal arterial occlusion occurred in 38 of 72 limbs (53\%). No intergroup comparisons were statistically significant. The response of each leg was symmetric in 89\% of subjects. No subject who could not occlude the popliteal artery at rest was able to do so with exercise. Magnetic resonance imaging disclosed normal anatomy in all subjects and showed the location of popliteal occlusion to be at the level of the soleal sling, with positional compression by the soleus muscle, the lateral head of the gastrocnemius, the plantaris, and popliteus muscles. CONCLUSION: Popliteal arterial occlusion can be induced in 53\% of subjects with simple leg positioning caused by myofascial compression. This must be considered when evaluating patients for intervention on the basis of physiologic testing of the popliteal vessels.
This article was published in J Vasc Surg
and referenced in Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies