Iliotibial Tract (ITB) Anatomy

Overview
Origin Iliac crest (lateral aspect)
Gluteus maximus & tensor fasciae latae muscle’s aponeuroses
Insertion Iliotibial tubercle (also known as Gerdy’s tubercle)
Action Stabilisation of the hip and knee
Supports the actions of the gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae
Nerve Superior gluteal nerve L4-S1
Inferior gluteal nerve L5-S2
Artery Ascending branch of the lateral femoral circumflex artery
Superior gluteal artery

Location & Overview

The iliotibial tract is also referred to as the iliotibial band (ITB for short) and is also sometimes called Maissiat’s band. Maissiat’s band is named after the person who discovered it, Jacques Maissiat, who was a French anatomist [1].

The iliotibial tract is located in the lateral thigh region and spans from the ilium to the proximal tibia. The iliotibial tract is a thick band of deep fascia. The fascia lata, gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae muscles all contribute to the formation of the iliotibial tract. The gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae connect to the iliotibial tract via an aponeurosis. The fascia lata is a fascial sheath which envelops the thigh like a sleeve and its fibres contribute to the iliotibial tract [2] [3].

iliotibial tract amongst the other muscles of the leg

Here we can see the iliotibial tract highlighted in green amongst the other muscles of the leg.

iliotibial tract in isolation

Here we can see the iliotibial tract in isolation from a lateral view.

iliotibial tract connecting via aponeuroses to the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae latae

Pictured here you can see the iliotibial tract connecting via aponeuroses to the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae latae.

Origin & Insertion

The iliotibial tract originates on the ilium’s lateral aspect. Aponeuroses from the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) also connect to the proximal iliotibial tract. These aponeuroses serve as further origin points for the iliotibial tract. The iliotibial tract then continues down the lateral thigh, crossing the knee joint. It then inserts onto the iliotibial tubercle, which is located on the tibia. The iliotibial tubercle is sometimes referred to as ‘Gerdy’s tubercle’ [4].

origin of the iliotibial tract

Highlighted in red you can see the origin of the iliotibial tract on the lateral aspect of the Iliac crest.

insertion of the iliotibial tract

Highlighted in blue you can see the insertion of the iliotibial tract on the Iliotibial tubercle (also known as Gerdy tubercle).

Actions

The primary action of the iliotibial tract is stabilisation of the hip and knee. However, it also works together with gluteus maximus and tensor fasciae latae (TFL) due to the aponeuroses which connects these muscles to the iliotibial tract. The iliotibial tract can assist in the actions of both the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae latae because it connects to them [5].

The gluteus maximus primarily extends the hip and contributes to hip abduction. Contraction of the TFL can maintain tension on the iliotibial tract providing stability. The TFL’s contraction can also pull the hip inferiorly (hip abduction), causing the hip on the opposite side to rise. This hip movement assists in walking by allowing the leg to swing without hitting the ground [6] [7] [8].

Innervation

The iliotibial band shares the same innervation as the gluteus maximus and the TFL. These innervations are the superior gluteal nerve (SGN, L4-S1) and inferior gluteal nerve (IGN, L5-S2) [9].

Blood Supply

Blood is supplied to the iliotibial tract via the ascending branch of the lateral femoral circumflex artery and the superior gluteal artery [10].

Want some flashcards to help you remember this information? Then click the link below:
Iliotibial Tract Flashcards

References

References
1, 2 Flato R, Passanante GJ, Skalski MR, Patel DB, White EA, Matcuk GR Jr. The iliotibial tract: imaging, anatomy, injuries, and other pathology. Skeletal Radiol. 2017 May;46(5):605-622. doi: 10.1007/s00256-017-2604-y. Epub 2017 Feb 25. PMID: 28238018.
3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10 Hyland S, Graefe SB, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Iliotibial Band (Tract) [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537097/
7 Trammell AP, Nahian A, Pilson H. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499870/
8 Elzanie A, Borger J. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Gluteus Maximus Muscle. [Updated 2022 Mar 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538193/