Ligamentum teres of the hip

Last revised by Amanda Er on 18 Jul 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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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1
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  • Figure 2
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  • Figure 3
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  • Case 1: normal
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  • Case 2: absent teres ligament
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  • Case 3: avulsion fracture of femoral head
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