There's this fascial band called the band of Richer that wraps around the quadriceps femoris muscle above the knee (in this illustration, look for it near the left knee). It seems to stem from the iliotibial tract. I could only find the term "band of Richer"/"Richer's band" from artistic anatomy sources, and it sounds like this particular fascial band is named after Paul Richer. Even though it seems to be noted in some sources meant for artists, surprisingly lots of them completely miss this very visible surface feature. In the photo next to the illustration you can clearly see parts of the vastus medialis above the knee bulges out because something is tying it tightly above.

So what is its proper name, if there's such thing? Is it simply "band of Richer"? What about its Latin name?


2 Answers 2


There is no such ligamentous or connective tissue structure as depicted in the linked image. This is a visual artifact created by the border of the vastus medialis or just a fanciful artistic interpretation. Based on 25 years of teaching human anatomy, I suspect the latter, because the artist's image shows this band much more proximal than the distal extent of the vastus muscles.

Anterior thigh

Here is a link to a photo of a dissection of this region that shows no structure there.

Indeed, Gray's Anatomy's list of eponymous structures does not list it:

enter image description here

There is actually quite a lot wrong with that drawing. The rectus abdominis extends too far superiorly, which really shortens the thorax.

  • $\begingroup$ So what do you think is causing the vastus medialis to bulge out? I know this is a very old source, but I learned about this Richer's band from a very modern anatomy course, with very modern photographic evidence. This band behaves very similarly to the extra tendon from the biceps brachii that wraps around the hand flexors, causing them to bulge out. And this is not the only source either, in Paul Richer's Artistic Anatomy (Anatomie Artistique), it's also mentioned in diagram in passing, strangely enough, as "Richer's band". $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2021 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ Also I'm not quite sure what you mean by "the rectus abdominis extends too far superiorly, which really shortens the thorax". I think if you overlay the diagram onto the photo it's not even that far off, the measurement seems to line up well. Doesn't the rectus abdominis extend all the way to the fifth or even fourth pair of ribs, right above the bottom of the gladiolus, as the diagram depicts? $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2021 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ It's just the distal extent of the muscle as it grades into the quadriceps tendon. The muscle can hypertrophy with exercise, but the tendon won't, so it gives the appearance of a band. I have dissected easily 400 lower limbs and have never seen anything like this. There is no retinaculum-like structure (which is what think you are describing) at that position in the lower limb. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:38

Suprapatellar tract (Kollmann). Yes, it does exist, but it isn't a ligament, as some illustrations in art anatomy books are trying to indicate.

The name Richer's band, is a term that emerged in art schools. Early 20th century books on Artistic Anatomy have this term imprinted as convention. You'll find it in Arthur Thompson, U. Parkes, Eugene Wolff, Faringdon Moses, and others, where the name of Richer's band is used (published before 1930). Only some of these authors have described it anatomically, but in all cases only partially. Up to the point of the appearance of Joseph Sheppard's Artistic Anatomy, this Richer's band had steadily grown into a thick and firm tendon. For the sake of art students, it has always been important to inform about this "band", since it has an effect on the exterior surface form of the thigh, which can be observed in the live model, as well as be admired in Greek sculpture of the classical period. Richer's band merely served as an explanation for this surface phenomenon in the art studio, and the term has never been used in medical books on anatomy. However, it has beed discribed in one way or another in anatomy books. Sobatta illustrated it, Julius Kollmann described it in his book, Plastische Anatomie, and so on. Kollmann calls it the suprapatellar tract. (Plastische Anatomie des menschlichen Körpers, third edition).

enter image description here

The reason why this thickening in the fascia of the thigh became known as "Richer's band" is because Dr. Paul Richer, collaborator and friend of the Anatomist Dr. Paul Poirier, made a clinical description of it in the last decade of the 19th century, Paris, to explain once and for all what causes the indentation in the skin covering the vastus medialis a few fingerbreadths above the kneecap.

Dr. Poirier, in the multi-volume edition of "Traité d'anatomie humaine, publié sous la direction de Paul Poirier (et A. Charpy)", in the volume on myology, illustrated mainly by Paul Richer, makes brief mention of this thickening band of the aponeurosis of the thigh, adding that he would be going back to this matter soon. In the anatomical illustrations of the lower extremity in this volume, done by Richer, this band had been meticulously added, but no further mention had been made to it in the text.

Poirier writes on page 286,

"je reviendrai plus loin sur les détails que présente cette partie antérieure de l'aponévrose fémorale, renforcée en bas par une band. arciforme (V. fig. 152)"

Translated, "I will come back later to the details of this anterior part of the femoral aponeurosis, reinforced below by an arciform band (see fig. 152)".

Poirier, who was a close friend of Richer's, it seems, had left it to Richer to coin it in his own words.

So we find in Richer's Anatomie Artistique, 1892, the following sentence,

"Il existe à trois ou quatre travers de doigt de la rotule une condensation des fibres transversales de l’aponévrose, formant un véritable faisceau ou ruban aponévrotique, que je propose de désigner sous le nom de fibres arciformes inférieures de l’aponévrose fémorale. (PL. 68, 70 et 71.)"

Translated, "Three or four fingerbreadths from the patella, there is a condensation of the transverse fibres of the aponeurosis, forming a real aponeurotic bundle or ribbon, which I propose to call the inferior arciform fibres of the femoral aponeurosis. (PL. 68, 70 and 71.) "

But in Richer later book, published as an advanced course at the l'Ecole de Beaux-Arts, Nouvelle anatomie artistique du corps humain. Cours pratique et élémentaire, 1906, a more detailed description is given, which may serve as filling the gap left in Poirier's previous text.

On page 71 Richer writes,

"L'aponévrose d'enveloppe du quadriceps présente une disposition spéciale qui joue un grand rôle dans les formes extérieures de la région. (PL 24, 25, 26 et 27.) Il existe, à trois ou quatre travers de doigt au-dessus de la rotule, une con­densation des fibres transversales de l'aponévrose fémorale, formant un véri­table faisceau ou ruban aponévrotique qui mérite de prendre le nom de ruban des vastes. En effet, ce ruban aponévrotique obliquement dirigé embrasse dans sa courbure l'extrémité inférieure des deux vastes, le vaste interne et le vaste externe. L'extrémité externe, épanouie en éventail, se confond avec le fascia lata, pendant que l'extrémité interne, formée de fibres plus conden­sées, croise le vaste interne suivant une direction perpendiculaire à celle de ses fibres charnues, à deux travers de doigt de son extrémité inférieure, passe ensuite sur la tubérosité fémorale interne et descend au-devant du couturier, avec le tendon duquel ses fibres s'entre-croisent à angle aigu. Aux points où ce faisceau rencontre les cloisons aponévrotiques inter­musculaires interne et externe, des fibres se détachent de sa face profonde qui descendent le long de ces cloisons pour aller s'insérer avec elles aux divisions inférieures de la ligne âpre. De sorte qu\in véritable anneau ostéô­fibreux se trouve ainsi constitué, anneau disposé dans un plan transversal et incliné de haut en bas et de dehors en dedans, et enserrant étroitement toute la partie inférieure du muscle triceps."

Translated, "The envelope aponeurosis of the quadriceps has a special arrangement which plays a major role in the external shape of the region. (PL 24, 25, 26 and 27.) Three or four fingerbreadths above the patella, there is a condensation of the transverse fibres of the femoral aponeurosis, forming a veritable bundle or aponeurotic ribbon which deserves to be called the ribbon of the vastus. In fact, this obliquely directed aponeurotic ribbon embraces in its curvature the lower extremity of the two vastus medialis and the vastus lateralis. The outer end, spread out like a fan, merges with the fascia lata, while the inner end, formed of more condensed fibres, crosses the vastus medialis in a direction perpendicular to that of its fleshy fibres, two fingerbreadths from its lower end, then passes over the medial femoral tuberosity and descends in front of the sartorius, with the tendon of which its fibres cross at an acute angle. At the points where this bundle meets the internal and external intermuscular aponeurotic partitions, fibres detach from its deep surface and descend along these partitions to be inserted with them in the lower divisions of the linea aspera. In this way, a veritable osteofibrous ring is formed, arranged in a transverse plane and inclined from top to bottom and from outside to inside, tightly enclosing the entire lower part of the triceps muscle."

Thus was born, the band of Richer.

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    $\begingroup$ I woud like to add on a personal note, that I chatted with a retired surgeon from Germany regarding the suprapattelar tract. I said that I was glad to see it being mentioned by Kollmann, although it is a rarity that presents more interest to painters and sculptors that to the medical profession. He reassured me however, that since the knee joint is a particularly difficult joint in surgery the suprapattelar region mentioned by Kollmann is well known by medical professionals since special attention is required in this region during operations. I therefore refute the previous answer given by kmm $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2023 at 17:30

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