Vastus lateralis muscle

Last revised by Reabal Najjar on 20 Dec 2022

The vastus lateralis is largest of the four quadriceps muscles in the anterior compartment of the thigh. The others are the rectus femoris, the vastus intermedius, and the vastus medialis.

The vastus lateralis muscle lies superficial to the biceps femoris muscle with its lateral side covered by the tensor fasciae latae. The muscle lies medial to the gluteus maximus and is situated lateral to the vastus intermedius muscle.

The vastus lateralis originates from the greater trochanter, upper part of the intertrochanteric line, superior aspect of the lateral lip of the linea aspera and gluteal tuberosity of the femur.

Along with other muscles of the quadriceps femoris, the vastus lateralis inserts on the tibial tuberosity via the patellar ligament. Also, it attaches to the lateral aspect of the patella.

The vastus lateralis provides the extension of the leg at the knee joint.

The vastus lateralis is innervated by the muscular branches of the femoral nerve (L2 - L4) that arises from the lumbar plexus.

The vastus lateralis receives arterial blood supply from the ascending, transverse and descending branches of the lateral circumflex femoral artery and the lateral artery, a perforating branch of the deep femoral artery.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: anterior thigh muscles (Gray's illustration)
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  • Figure 2: thigh muscles: cross sectional anatomy
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