It is uncommon for the popliteus tendon to be torn in isolation, but it may become damaged in injuries of the posterolateral corner, together with other structures here. The tendon can remain intact but be torn off the femur together with a fragment of bone - this is called an 'avulsion' injury.
The tendon of the popliteus is visible during arthroscopy in a recess just behind the lateral meniscus, and tears of the tendon may be visible here, or there may be a gap where the tendon should be. In addition there may be a haemarthrosis (blood inside the knee cavity).
Open access article - Mariani PP and Margheritini F. Partial isolated rupture of the popliteus tendon in a professional soccer player: a case report. Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology 2009, 1:18
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