Obturator externus muscle

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Obturator externus muscle
Posterior Hip Muscles 1.PNG
The obturator externus and nearby hip muscles (posterior view)
The Obturator externus. Inferior view
Latin musculus obturatorius externus
obturator foramen and obturatory membrane
trochanteric fossa of femur
obturator artery
posterior branch of obturator nerve (third and fourth lumbar nerves)
Actions adduct thigh, rotate laterally thigh
Gray's p.477
TA A04.7.02.031
FMA FMA:22299
Anatomical terms of muscle

The obturator externus muscle (/ˌɒbtjʉˈrtər ɨkˈstɜrnəs/) (OE) is a flat, triangular muscle, which covers the outer surface of the anterior wall of the pelvis.

It is sometimes considered part of the medial compartment of thigh,[1] and sometimes considered part of the gluteal region.[2]


It arises from the margin of bone immediately around the medial side of the obturator membrane and surrounding bone, viz., from the inferior ramus of the pubis, and the ramus of the ischium; it also arises from the medial two-thirds of the outer surface of the obturator membrane, and from the tendinous arch which completes the canal for the passage of the obturator vessels and nerves.

The fibers springing from the pubic arch extend on to the inner surface of the bone, where they obtain a narrow origin between the margin of the foramen and the attachment of the obturator membrane.

The fibers converge and pass posterolateral and upward, and end in a tendon which runs across the back of the neck of the femur and lower part of the capsule of the hip joint and is inserted into the trochanteric fossa of the femur.


The obturator vessels lie between the muscle and the obturator membrane; the anterior branch of the obturator nerve reaches the thigh by passing in front of the muscle, and the posterior branch by piercing it.


In 33% of people a supernumerary muscle is found between the adductor brevis and minimus. While this muscle, when present, is similar to its neighbouring adductors, it is formed by separation from the superficial layer of the obturator externus, and is thus not ontogentically related to the adductor muscles of the hip. This muscle originates from the upper part of the inferior ramus of the pubis from where it runs downwards and laterally. In half of cases, it inserts into the anterior surface of the insertion aponeurosis of the adductor minimus. In the remaining cases, it is either inserted into the upper part of the pectineal line or the posterior part of the lesser trochanter.[3]

It has been demonstrated by the course of the posterior branch of obturator nerve that the obturator externus is divided into a superior fasciculus and a main belly. The supernumerary muscle described above originates from the superior fasciculus, while an anomalous fasciculus — also derived from the obturator externus — originates from the main belly. The "original" obturator externus, i.e. without these supernumerary muscular parts, actually occurs in only 20% of cases, and apparently the obturator externus readily undergoes ontogenetic variations.[4]


O[5]bturator externus act as lateral rotator hip joint. As a short muscle around hip joint it stabilizes hip joint as a postural muscle.


Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]

This article uses anatomical terminology; for an overview, see anatomical terminology.


This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.

  1. ^ Sauerland, Eberhardt K.; Patrick W., PhD. Tank; Tank, Patrick W. (2005). Grant's dissector. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 129. ISBN 0-7817-5484-4. 
  2. ^ "Summary of Lower Limb". Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  3. ^ Nakamura, E; Masumi, S; Miura, M; Kato, S; Miyauchi, R (1992). "A supernumerary muscle between the adductors brevis and minimus in humans". Okajimas folia anatomica Japonica 69 (2–3): 89–98. PMID 1436954. 
  4. ^ Yatsunami, M; Tai, T; Irie, Y; Ogawa, K; Miyauchi, R (2004). "A morphological study on the human obturator externus muscle with reference to anomalous muscle and anomalous fasciculus originating from the obturator externus muscle". Okajimas folia anatomica Japonica 80 (5–6): 103–14. PMID 15134328. 
  5. ^ A>K datta-inf extremity

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