Fetal development of the pulley for muscle insertion tendons: A review and new findings related to the tensor tympani tendon

Jose Francisco Rodríguez-Vázquez, Yohei Honkura, Yukio Katori, Gen Murakami, Hiroshi Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The existence of hard tissue pulleys that act to change the direction of a muscle insertion tendon is well known in the human body. These include (1) the trochlea for the extraocular obliquus superior muscle, (2) the pterygoid hamulus for the tensor veli palatini muscle, (3) the deep sulcus on the plantar aspect of the cuboid bone for the peroneus longus tendon, (4) the lesser sciatic notch for the obturator internus muscle, and (5) the bony trochleariformis process for the tensor tympani muscle tendon. In addition, (6) the stapedius muscle tendon shows a lesser or greater angulation at the pyramidal eminence of the temporal bone. Our recent studies have shown that the development of pulleys Nos. 1 and 2 can be explained by a change in the topographical relationship between the pulley and the tendon, that of pulley No. 3 by the rapidly growing calcaneus pushing the tendon, and that of pulley No. 4 by migration of the insertion along the sciatic nerve and gluteus medius tendon. Therefore, in Nos. 1–4, an initially direct tendon curves secondarily and obtains an attachment to the pulley. In case No. 6, the terminal part of the stapedius tendon originates secondarily from the interzone mesenchymal tissue of the incudostapedial joint. In the case of pulley No. 5, we newly demonstrated that its initial phase of development was similar to No. 6, but the tensor tympani tendon achieved a right-angled turn under guidance by a specific fibrous tissue and it migrated along the growing malleus manubrium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Anatomy
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Development
  • Human fetus
  • Pulley
  • Tendon
  • Tensor tympani

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Developmental Biology


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