The popliteal fossa is a shallow depression located at the back of the knee joint. The bones of the popliteal fossa are the femur and the tibia.

The boundaries of the fossa are as follows:





Superior and medial: Semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscles

Superior and lateral: Biceps femoris muscle


Inferior and medial: Medial head of gastrocnemius muscle

Inferior and lateral: Lateral head of gastrocnemius and plantaris muscles

The roof of the popliteal fossa is formed by (from superficial to deep):

  • Skin
  • Superficial fascia, which contains the small saphenous vein, the terminal branch of the posterior cutaneous nerve of the thigh, posterior division of the medial cutaneous nerve, lateral sural cutaneous nerve, and medial sural cutaneous nerve
  • Deep fascia or popliteal fascia

The floor of the popliteal fossa is formed by:

  • The popliteal surface of the femur
  • The capsule of the knee joint and the oblique popliteal ligament
  • Strong fascia covering the popliteus muscle

Structures within the popliteal fossa include (from superficial to deep):

  • Tibial nerve
  • Popliteal vein
  • Popliteal artery, a continuation of the femoral artery

Of note, the common fibular nerve also begins at the superior angle of the popliteal fossa.