Ligamentum teres of the hip

Last revised by Sonam Vadera on 6 Dec 2022

The ligamentum teres, also known as the ligamentum capitis femoris or round ligament of the hip, is an intra-articular ligament within the medial hip joint.

The ligament passes from the transverse ligament and acetabular notch of the acetabulum to the femoral head where it inserts into a shallow depression called the fovea capitis. The ligament is lined by synovium. It ranges from a well-formed structure in some patients to absent in others (see case 2).

Ligamentum teres classically is defined as originating from the transverse acetabular ligament. More recent anatomical studies have shown a much more comprehensive set of six attachments 4 to the acetabulum. 

  • superficial: transverse acetabular ligament

  • deep attachments

    • posterior attachment: ischial margin of acetabular notch 

    • anterior attachment: pubic margin of acetabular notch 

    • acetabular fossa attachment to the ilium, ischium and pubis

In the infant it has a significant role as it transmits a nutrient artery to the femoral head epiphysis. In the adult, its role is poorly understood, and there are several hypothesized functions 2:

  • maintains the upright position as it is tightest when erect and weight-bearing

  • aids fine coordination of the hip joint

  • additional hip stabilizer in patients with generalized ligamentous laxity, hip dysplasia and in patients with anteroinferior acetabular deficiency

  • maintains lubrication in the joint by aiding the distribution of synovial fluid

  • congenital absence of the ligamentum teres 3

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