The femoral artery is a large vessel that provides oxygenated blood to lower extremity structures and in part to the anterior abdominal wall. The femoral artery, vein, and nerve all exist in the anterior region of the thigh known as the femoral triangle, just inferior to the inguinal ligament. Within the femoral triangle, the anatomical relationship from medial to lateral is femoral vein, common femoral artery, and femoral nerve. The artery and vein are both contained within the femoral sheath while the nerve is not
The common femoral artery forms as a continuation of the external iliac artery below the level of the inguinal ligament. It is found just medial to the midpoint of the inguinal ligament in the inguinal crease region. The two bony landmarks useful for identifying the inguinal ligament are the anterior superior iliac spine and pubic symphysis. The average common femoral artery is approximately 4 cm in length and lies just anterior to the femoral head. Its length and diameter are quite variable depending on characteristics such as height, weight, sex and ethnicity.
he common femoral artery gives off the deep femoral branch and continues as the superficial femoral artery. The superficial femoral artery continues distally to the level of the adductor hiatus where it terminates as the popliteal artery. The deep femoral artery terminates as perforating arteries in the thigh.
Branches arising from the common femoral artery include superficial epigastric artery, superficial circumflex artery, and external pudendal artery. Distal to these smaller branches, the common femoral artery bifurcates into the deep femoral (or profunda femoris) and superficial femoral artery.
The superficial femoral artery plays a crucial role in delivering oxygenated blood to the entire lower leg. Before entering the adductor canal, it gives off the descending genicular artery that supplies part of the knee. As the superficial femoral artery traverses the adductor canal, it gives off minor branches to the muscles of the thigh. Once it emerges from the adductor hiatus, its name changes to the popliteal artery which provides oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the knee compartment. The deep femoral artery gives rise to medial and lateral circumflex arteries that supply the femur and hip region before it dives deep into the thigh compartment and terminates as perforating deep tissue branches.
The femoral artery is clinically significant because it is a frequent site of peripheral arterial disease complications which may lead to intermittent claudication symptoms in the thigh and calf. as well as an access point for many endovascular procedures.
Symptoms that indicate femoral artery disease may include claudication in the thighs and calves, cold, discolored extremities, poor wound healing below the lesion, change in sensation, and in end-stage disease, gangrene or necrosis of the digits. Chronic health conditions that increase a patient’s risk of PAD include age, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary atherosclerotic disease, vasculitis, sedentary lifestyle, and smoking. It is worth noting that the absence of these risk factors does not preclude a patient from having PAD.
- Swift H, Bordoni B. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Femoral Artery. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan
- Patel SK, Surowiec SM. Intermittent Claudication. [Updated 2019 Feb 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
- Anatomy Knowledge. Femoral Artery and its branches - Anatomy tutorial. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsUNat9SZqA [last accessed 27/9/2019]