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What Leads To Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome & Can It Be Cured?

Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome caused due to hereditary or development later in life due to the overuse of muscles.1

They are more common among sportspeople or individuals who are most frequently involved in team sports activities as a result of sudden and repeated contraction of the calf muscle.2

Long term outcomes of surgical procedures carried on the popliteal artery entrapment syndrome are found to produce significant improvements.3,4

Popliteal artery entrapment is an uncommon form of vein condition that left under-diagnosed since it is confused for other syndromes. The condition that was not identified in their initial stages and not treated correctly often results in chronic complications such as severe damages to the arteries and poor quality of life.

Since it is primarily noticed in young and active athletes & adults who experience minimal or no preconditions, diagnosis becomes more challenging. Research suggests it is highly essential to perform the correct diagnosis to avoid devastating complications and long-term morbidity.

What leads To Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome?

The popliteal artery is the central artery diverging from the femoral artery that arises at the level of the adductor hiatus in the adductor Magnus muscle of the second joint. This occurs because of the strange connection between the popliteal artery and the surrounding muscular structures in the popliteal fossa. This eventually results in recurrent trauma, damaged arteries, total artery occlusion, or enlargement of an artery that creates a bulge, or distention, of the artery.1

Based on the pathogenesis, the popliteal artery entrapment syndrome is classified into five types:

Type 1 – Medial head of the gastrocnemius behaves customary however the popliteal artery is abnormal and strange

Type 2 – Occurs as a result of an abnormal position of a nearby muscle located laterally

Type 3- There is an abnormal muscle bundle from the medial head that happens because of an accessory slip and constricts the popliteal artery.

Type 4- The popliteal artery is located deeply and entrapped by the popliteus muscle

Type 5- Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome generally happens when both the popliteal artery and popliteal veins are entrapped.

The condition may occur either at birth (inherited characteristics) or acquired later in life due to the overuse of the muscle or because of injury. Patients with these anomalies experience decreased blood flow in the affected legs causing cold foot, numbness, and exercise-induced leg pain. The syndrome is most common in men and the male to female ratio is 15:1 2.

Can Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome Be Cured?

Studies show that only less than 3% of patients are borne with this syndrome and in most cases, it doesn’t develop symptoms. PAES is a curable condition when diagnosed early. A study was conducted on a young athlete diagnosed with popliteal artery entrapment syndrome who almost thought her sports career and her dreams have come to an end.

She was experiencing severe leg pain which crippled her game. However, she was diagnosed correctly and was provided with appropriate surgery followed by follow-up care. The experts were able to provide her with the required relief and the patient was relieved from pain. Surgery must be required in different people with different expertise. When the patient experience long-term condition, they may need bypass surgery. This is usually done during the severe narrowing of the arteries. Surgery doesn’t affect leg function and a full recovery is expected when the condition is diagnosed and treated early.3,4


  1. “Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/popliteal-artery-entrapment/symptoms-causes/syc-20465211.
  2. “Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome (PAES).” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17375-popliteal-artery-entrapment-syndrome-paes.
  3. “Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/popliteal-artery-entrapment/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20465225.
  4. Lejay, A., et al. “Five Year Outcomes of Surgical Treatment for Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome.” European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, W.B. Saunders, 20 Feb. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1078588415008898.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 7, 2020

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