The arteria femoralis (large leg artery), originates in the pelvis from the external iliac artery (A. iliaca externa). It then lies between the nerve and the vein (femoral nerve and femoral vein) and is easily palpable at this point in the area of the inguinal canal. For this reason, the femoral artery is often used for puncture during heart catheter examinations or for the placement of a central catheter. The femoral artery is used to supply the thigh with oxygen-rich and nutrient-rich blood. Since the muscles of the thigh are the largest muscle group in the body, they require a particularly good blood supply.
Position and course
Below the inguinal ligament (Ligamentum inguinale), the artery runs along one of the pelvic bones (Pecten ossis pubis) and from there continues into the Trigonum femorale (Fossa iliopectineae), which is bounded by the Musculus iliopsoas and the Musculus pectineus. From there the artery moves to the back of the thigh. On its way there, it runs together with the saphenous nerve through the adductor canal.
At the exit of this canal, the femoral artery merges with the popliteal artery. Various vessels branch off from the femoral artery in this way. The main branch of the femoral artery is also known as the superficial femoral artery (superficialis lat.
for “superficial”) after the branching off of the femoral artery profunda, because it is located superficially in the skin and moves distally and finally merges into the popliteal artery in the hollow of the knee. The vessel, covered by the fascia lata between the iliopsoas and pectineus muscles, runs from the groin region to the hollow of the knee. The artery passes through other structures, such as the adductor canal, which it leaves through the hiatus adductorius and is then called the popliteal artery.
Departures of the arteria femoralis superficialis are the A. epigastrica superficialis, A. circumflexa ilium superficialis, the arteria pudendae and the arteria femoralis profunda. Thus the Arteria femoralis superficialis supplies a part of the skin of the abdominal wall, the external genitals, the knee and parts of the lower leg, then already as A. poplitea. The A. femoralis profunda (profunda lat.
for “deep”) is the largest branch of the Arteria femoralis, which is subsequently also called Arteria femoralis superficialis, and runs in the depth of the thigh. It is mainly responsible for the supply of the thigh and gives off several branches for this purpose. Important branches of the Arteria femoralis profunda are the A. circumflexa femoris medialis and lateralis, which come into contact with each other in the fossa trochanterica on the thigh and form an anastomosis.
For the back of the thigh, the arteria perforantes branch off. The arteria epigastrica superficialis branches off directly in the inguinal canal from the arteria femoralis and from there it moves upwards again towards the trunk. The various arteriae pudendae externae supply the labia in women and the scrotum in men, as well as the skin of the inguinal region in both sexes with arterial blood.
Another small branch is the arteria circumflexa iliaca superficialis. This artery serves to supply part of the iliac bone. The artery on the inside, the arteria circumflexa femoris medialis, supplies the ischiocrural musculature, the lateral arteria circumflexa femoris lateralis supplies the extensors of the thigh. On the other hand, three to four arteriae perforantes are delivered, which reach the back of the thigh and supply it with oxygenated blood. The inner side of the thigh is supplied by the arteria descendens genicularis, which together with the saphenous nerve passes through a small gap in the muscle layer, the septum intermuscular vastoadductorium.