The lateral retinaculum is the name given to the sheet of fibrous tissue that provide a passive restraint to the patella on the outer (lateral) side of the knee.

lateral retinaculum

The colours show the superficial and deep layers of the retinaculum. The red arrow marks the lateral retinaculum. On the other side of the patella is the medial retinaculum.

patellar tilt due to a tight lateral retinaculum

The opposite knee showing patellar tilt due to a tight lateral retinaculum on the lateral side. We have not drawn the retinaculum on the medial side.


Patellar tilt due to a tight lateral retinaculum

It may happen that the lateral retinaculum becomes tight, tilting the patella over to one side. In this situation, the procedure of lateral release or lateral retinacular lengthening may be beneficial.


The lateral retinaculum and lateral release

Article about the anatomy of the lateral retinaculum of the knee, and indications for lateral release surgery.

An 'interpretation' of a 2008 medical publications of the anatomical structure of the lateral retinaculum as found in cadaver dissections.



The structural properties of the lateral retinaculum and capsular complex of the knee. Merican AM, Sanghavi S, Iranpour F and Amis AA. J Biomech. 2009 Oct 16; 42(14): 2323–2329.

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