Snapping Popliteus Tendon M67.869

ICD-9 Classification / Treatment
Etiology / Natural History Associated Injuries / DDx
Anatomy Complications
Clinical Evaluation Follow-up Care
Xray / Diagnositc Tests Review References


Snapping Popliteus Tendon ICD-10

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Etiology / Epidemiology / Natural History

  •  Uncommon

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Anatomy

  • Popliteus provides static and dynamic stabilization of the posterolateral knee.
  • Snapping may occur with tight tendon, shallow femoral sulcus, following trauma, lateral femoral condyle osteophyte, 

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Clinical Evaluation

  • Lateral knee pain, snapping, popping or occasional locking.
  • Lateral joint line tenderness.
  • Cabot sign:  patient supine and the involved knee flexed with the lower leg crossed over the contralateral leg.  The patient extends the knee while the examiner palpates the lateral joint line.  Lateral knee pain with extension is considered positive. 
  • Generally feel a lateral snap or pop during Cabot sign. 

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Xray / Diagnositc Tests

  • Knee xrays generally normal. 
  • MRI generally normal.
  • May consider dynamic ultrasound if available. 
  • Arthroscopic exam:   tendon appears inflamed, thickened, or fibrotic, with localized inflammation of the surrounding synovial tissue.  May observe “more tendon,” or  subluxation from popliteal sulcus at 30° to 40° as the knee is passed from flexion to extension.  

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Classification / Treatment

  • PT, compressive knee sleeve, NSAIDS, activity modifications 
  • Knee arthroscopy, evaluate popliteus for subluxation or frictional changes.  
  • Lateral pericondylar incision and dissection to the popliteus tendon. Exam tendon for subluxation.  Consider deepening the popliteal sulcus and securing the tendon to bone using a bioabsorbable suture anchor. 

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Associated Injuries / Differential Diagnosis


Snapping Popliteus Tendon Complications

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Follow-up Care

  • Knee braced at full extension for 14 days with WBAT. 
  • Begin PT at 2 weeks

Snapping Popliteus Tendon Review References

  • Mariani P, Arthroscopy 2005:21:888-892
  • Crites BM, Lohnes J, Garrett WE Jr. Snapping popliteal tendon as a source of lateral knee pain. Scand J Med Sci Sports
  • 1998;8:243-244.
  • Cooper DE. Snapping popliteus tendon syndrome. A cause of mechanical knee popping in athletes. Am J Sports Med 1999;27:671-674.
  • Gaine WJ, Mohammed A. Osteophyte impingement of the popliteus tendon as a cause of lateral knee joint pain. Knee 2002;9:249-252.
  • McAllister DR, Parker RD. Bilateral subluxating popliteus tendons. A case report. Am J Sports Med 1999;27:376-379