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Accuracy and Safety of Dry Needling Placement in the Popliteus Muscle: A Cadaveric Study

Int J Clin Pract. 2021 Jul 29:e14669. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.14669. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The popliteus muscle attaches posteriorly to the joint capsule of the knee. Although it is an important rotational stabilizer and has been implicated in various knee pathologies, research on its treatment with dry needling is scarce.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if a needle accurately and safely penetrates the popliteus muscle during the clinical application of dry needling METHODS: A cadaveric descriptive study was conducted. Needling insertion of the popliteus muscle was conducted in 11 cryopreserved cadavers with a 50mm needle. The needle was inserted at upper third of the posterior part of the tibia closest to the knee towards the popliteus. The needle was advanced into the muscle based upon clinician judgement. Cross-sectional anatomical dissections were photographed and analyzed by photometry. Safety of the intervention was assessed by calculating the distance from the tip of the needle to the proximate neurovascular structures.

RESULTS: Accurate needle penetration of the popliteus muscle was observed in 10 out of 11 (91%) of the cadavers (mean needle penetration: 25.7±6.7mm, 95%CI 21.3 to 30.3mm). The distances from the tip of the needle were 17±6mm (95%CI 13 to 21mm) to the tibial nerve and 15±0.7mm (95%CI 10 to 20mm) to the popliteus vascular bundle.

CONCLUSION: The results from this cadaveric study support the notion that needling of the popliteus can be accurately and safely conducted by an experienced clinician. Future studies investigating the clinical effectiveness of this interventions are needed.

PMID:34324778 | DOI:10.1111/ijcp.14669


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