Clock face model applied to tibial intraneural ganglia in the popliteal fossa

Robert J. Spinner, Marie Noëlle Hébert-Blouin, Allen H. Maniker, Kimberly K. Amrami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Tibial intraneural ganglia occurring in the popliteal fossa are often misdiagnosed because of their relative rarity. Their joint connection is typically not recognized and therefore not treated, leading to recurrence. Study design: This is a retrospective clinical study. Materials and methods: Magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of six patients with confirmed tibial intraneural ganglia arising from the superior tibiofibular joint were analyzed and were compared to ten individuals with normal tibial nerves who were imaged with MRI. All studies were interpreted as left-sided. A previously designed clock face model introduced for peroneal intraneural ganglia was used to describe the superior tibiofibular joint connection (tail sign). A single axial image was sought to determine the normal anatomic and pathologic relationships of the tibial nerve and tibial articular branch to the superior tibiofibular joint. Results: In all patients with intraneural ganglia, a single conventional axial image at the mid-fibular head level could reliably demonstrate: (1) intraneural cyst within the articular branch at the superior tibiofibular joint connection (tail sign) between 8 and 9 o'clock and intraneural cyst within the tibial nerve, (2) the central location of the tibial nerve posterior to the tibia, and (3) popliteus muscle denervation changes and atrophy (popliteus sign). Conclusions: This technique can provide radiologists and surgeons with rapid and reproducible information for diagnosis and treatment planning of tibial intraneural ganglia. Similar to its use with the clock face model in peroneal intraneural ganglia, a standard axial image at the mid-fibular head level can be used to interpret key features of tibial intraneural ganglia and identify the joint connection. Improved identification of the presence of a joint connection will change the therapeutic approach of this pathology and reduce cyst recurrences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-696
Number of pages6
JournalSkeletal Radiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Articular theory
  • Intraneural ganglia
  • MRI
  • Tibial nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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