Neural Exam - Newborn tone - popliteal angle

From Embryology
<html5media height="300" width="320">File:Newborn n 12.mp4</html5media>
Newborn n 12.jpg
This 5-day-old infant is in the alert, quiet state.
  • The popliteal angle is an assessment of the tone of the hamstring muscles.
  • It is done one leg at a time.
  • The thigh is flexed on the abdomen with one hand and then the other hand straightens the leg by pushing on the back of the ankle until there is firm resistance to the movement.
  • The angle between the thigh and the leg is typically about 90 degrees.
  • Extension of the leg beyond 90 to 120 degrees would be seen in hypotonia.

Neural Exam Movies: normal behaviour | cranial nerves | Newborn Tone - resting posture | upper extremity‎ | arm traction | arm recoil | scarf sign | hand position | lower extremity | leg traction‎ | leg recoil‎‎ | popliteal angle‎ | heel to ear | neck tone | head lag‎ | head control | Newborn Positions - prone | ventral suspension | vertical suspension | Newborn Reflexes - deep tendon reflexes | plantar reflex‎ | suck, root | Moro | Galant | stepping‎ | grasp | Newborn Head - head shape and sutures‎ | head circumference‎ | Neonatal Diagnosis



  • Measurement of the popliteal angle is used to assess hamstring contracture in children with cerebral palsy.
  • The popliteal angle in 482 normal children, 1-10 years of age, was measured.
  • Using a 360 degrees goniometer, the popliteal angle was measured with the hip held at 90 degrees flexion to indicate hamstring muscle tightness.
  • Between the ages of 1 and 3 years, the mean angle was 6 degrees (range, 0-15).
  • A popliteal angle of greater than 50 degrees in the above age groups indicates abnormal hamstring tightness.

See also PMID 24082922

Movie Source - Paul D. Larsen  
Movies from the PediNeuroLogic Exam website are used by permission of Paul D. Larsen, M.D., University of Nebraska Medical Center and Suzanne S. Stensaas, Ph.D., University of Utah School of Medicine. Additional materials were drawn from resources provided by Alejandro Stern, Stern Foundation, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Kathleen Digre, M.D., University of Utah; and Daniel Jacobson, M.D., Marshfield Clinic, Wisconsin. The movies are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
Links: Neural Exam Movies | Movies

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, April 19) Embryology Neural Exam - Newborn tone - popliteal angle. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G