This is a list of useful words that may help you to understand your notes and test reports:



lateral, medial, anterior, posterior, superior, inferior, supra-, infra , sub-, supine, prone, transverse, flex, extend, hyper-extend

'Lateral' means towards the outer side (where you slap your thigh). 'Medial' means on the inner side (where your knees rub together). 'Anterior' means in the front. 'Posterior' means behind. 'Superior' and 'supra' means above. 'Inferior' and 'infra' and 'sub' mean below. 'Supine' means lying on your back. 'Prone' means lying on your tummy.  'Flex' means bend, 'extend' means straighten.



pre-, post-, acute, chronic

' Pre' means before, 'post' means after, 'acute' means recent or sudden, 'chronic' means old.



tibia, tibial, tibial plateau, tibial tubercle, femur, femoral, femoral notch, condyle, patella, patellar, facet, Gerdy's tubercle, gon-, varus deformity, valgus deformity, arthr-, arthroscopy, fracture

There are not so many bones in the knee joint. The tibia is the shin bone. The femur is the thigh bone, and its rounded white surfaces are called 'condyles'. The patella is the kneecap. A tubercle is a bony bump. 'Gon-' (eg goniometer) means to do with the knee. 'Varus' and 'valgus' refer to bow-legs and knock-knees. Arthr- means 'joint' (eg arthroscopy = to look inside the joint). A 'fracture' is a break.


Joint surface

cartilage, joint cartilage, chondral, sub-chondral, chondromalacia, osteochondritis dissecans.

'Chondral' means to do with the joint gristle or cartilage. 'Osteo-' means 'bone'. 'Osteo-chondral' means involving cartilage and bone. 'Sub-chondral' means just under the cartilage layer. 'Malacia' means softening. 'Dissecans' means fragmenting.



quads, quadriceps, patellar tendon, popliteus, popliteus tendon, hamstrings, biceps femoris tendon, VMO (vastus medialis obliquus).

Basically there are two muscle groups which support the knee, the quadriceps muscles in the front - so-called because it has four heads - and the hamstrings muscles behind, a bunch of muscles useful to surgeons as they have long tendons which can be used to repair torn ligaments. The VMO is part of the quads.


Soft tissues

tendon, ligament, bursa, synovium, synovial, plica.

A 'ligament' stretches between two bones, while a 'tendon' stretches between a bone and a muscle. A 'bursa' is a cavity which is under normal conditions empty of fluid, usually found where there is a lot of movement in a joint. The 'synovium' is the cellular lining of a joint. A fold of synovium is called a 'plica'.



effusion, haemorrhage, haemarthrosis, aspiration.

An 'effusion' means that there is too much fluid inside the joint - 'water on the knee' in lay terms. The 'haem-' bit implies blood rather than clear fluid in the joint. 'Aspiration' means sucking fluid or blood out.



mal-, dys- , -itis, -osis, prognosis.

'Mal' means bad, and 'dys' means abnormal. 'A word ending with '-itis' suggests inflammation, while a word ending with '-osis' just means problematic. 'Prognosis' means likely outcome.