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Gluteus medius and minimus muscles

The gluteus medius and minimus muscles, also referred to as the small gluteal muscles, are part of the dorsal gluteal musculature.

They are two muscles found in the posterior pelvis, travelling from the ilium to the femur. 

Anatomy and supply

The gluteus medius muscle forms the middle layer whereas the gluteus minimus muscle belongs to the deeper layer, along with the rotators of the hip joint. Both are innervated by the superior gluteal nerve, a branch of the sacral plexus (L4-S1).

Gluteus medius muscle (green) - posterior view

Gluteus medius muscle (green) - posterior view

The gluteus minimus muscle originates between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines of the ilium. The gluteus medius muscle originates more cranially between the anterior and posterior gluteal lines of the ilium thus entirely covering the gluteal minimus muscle. Both muscles insert at the greater trochanter of the femur. Topographically their caudal parts are in close proximity to the piriformis muscle which runs from the sacrum to the greater trochanter as well.

Recommended video: Gluteal muscles
Origins, insertions, innervation and functions of the gluteal muscles.

Function

The small gluteal muscles are the most powerful abductors and internal rotators of the hip joint. A contraction of the ventral fibers results in a flexion and inward rotation. The dorsal fibers perform an extension and outward rotation. Altogether they play an important role in the stabilization of the pelvis.

Gluteus minimus muscle (green) - posterior view

Clinical notes

Peripheral injury of the superior gluteal nerve

A peripheral injury of the superior gluteal nerve may lead to loss of motor function. The classical sign is the pelvis dropping to the healthy side when standing on one leg (Trendelenburg’s sign). In order to maintain the balance the patients compensatorily bend their upper body to the side of the stance leg. Furthermore, they walk with conspicuous sideward movements (Duchenne gait, also “waddling gait”).

Intramuscular injection

When performing an intramuscular injection in the gluteal region, an injury of the sciatic nerve and superior gluteal nerve has to be avoided. Therefore, a recommended site of injection is the gluteus medius muscle in the upper outer quadrant of the buttock (Hochstetter's technique).

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Show references

References:

  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, 1.Auflage, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), S.78-80
  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S.472-473, 549
  • W. Graumann/ D.Sasse: CompactLehrbuch der gesamten Anatomie – Band 2 – Bewegungsapparat, Schattauer Verlag (2003), S.137
  • C.J. Wirth/L. Zichner/C. Tschauner: Orthopädie und Orthopädische Chirurgie – Becken und Hüfte, Thieme Verlag (2004), S.42

Author & Layout:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy
  • Christopher A. Becker

Illustrators:

  • Gluteus medius Muscle - Liene Znotina 
  • Gluteus minimus muscle - Liene Znotina 
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Related Atlas Images

Muscles of the hip and thigh

Pelvis and femur

Rectum level

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