The plantaris muscle (PM) is a small, fusiform muscle located between the gastrocnemius muscle (GM) and soleus muscle (SM). PM supports movements of the knee and ankle. This muscle presents a great variability, and also has a high clinical significance. Nevertheless, data concerns morphology and morphometry of the origin of PM in human fetuses are scarce.
Forty-seven spontaneously-aborted human fetuses (23 male, 24 female) aged 18–38 weeks of gestation were examined. The morphology and morphometry of the origin of PM were evaluated.
PM was present in 74 lower limbs (78.7%), and absent on 20 limbs (21.3%). We distinguished VI types of the proximal attachment of PM. Belly width and thickness, as well as thickness of the tendon and MT junction differed significantly between types of PM origin.
We distinguished six (I–VI) types of origin of PM in human fetuses. The most common type was type Ia, characterized by an attachment to the lateral head of GM, lateral femoral condyle and to the knee joint capsule. Our results of PM anatomical variation in fetuses will pave the way for detailed comparisons with studies carried out on adult cadavers.