Extensor digitorum longus muscle

Last revised by Zahra Sabahi on 06 Feb 2020

Extensor digitorum longus (EDL) is a thin muscle situated in the anterior leg lateral to extensor hallucis longus and extends the lateral four toes.


  • origin: upper two thirds of anterior shaft of fibula, superior portion of the anterior surface of the interosseous membrane, superior tibiofibular joint, anterior lateral condyle of tibia
  • insertion: dorsal aponeurosis on the dorsal surface of the proximal phalanges of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th toes. Each dorsal aponeurosis then divides into a central band and two lateral bands:
    • the central band inserts into the base of the middle phalanx
    • the lateral bands insert into the medial and lateral surfaces of the base of the distal phalanx
  • action: extends the lateral four toes, aids in dorsiflexion
  • arterial supply: anterior tibial artery
  • innervation: deep peroneal nerve (L5. S1)
  • key relationships:

Gross anatomy

The muscle divides into four distinct tendons above the ankle joint which descend deep to the superior extensor retinaculum. As these tendons pass deep to the inferior extensor retinaculum, they are enclosed in a common tendon sheath with peroneus tertius.

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