Arteries of the Pelvis and the Lower Extremity


The aorta draws into the posterior pelvic region and bifurcates into the right and left common iliac arteries. Passing down their respective sides of the body, each vessel traverses about 5 centimeters before turning into the internal and external iliac arteries. The gluteal muscles and the organs within the pelvic area receive their blood supply via a vast network of small arterial branches stemming from the internal iliac artery. The iliolumbar artery and the lateral sacral arteries take care of the blood supply for the pelvic wall.

The pelvis houses several visceral organs within the region that demand blood supply from the middle rectal artery as well as from branches off the arteries that serve the bladder, the superior, middle, and inferior vesicular arteries. The internal iliac arteries branch out accordingly to provide the female reproductive organs with their blood supply. Superior and inferior gluteal arteries bring the supply to the muscles which create the buttocks, and the obturator artery contributes to the blood demands of the upper thigh.

The external genitalia are supplied by the internal pudental artery which branches off the internal iliac artery. This artery is also responsible for the excessive demand of the external genitalia during sexual arousal. The perenium muscles are also served by this same artery.


Arteries of the Pelvis and the Lower Extremity
Image: Arteries Of The Pelvis And The Lower Extremity

Exiting from the pelvic cavity, the external iliac artery traverses deep within the tissue near the inguinal ligament and turns into the femoral artery. Just previous to the inguinal ligament, the external iliac artery segments into two additional branches. The epigastric artery branches off to carry its supply to the muscles lining the wall of the abdomen. The other branch supplies the muscles associated with the iliac fossa, which is known as the circumflex iliac artery.

Medially along the upper half of the thigh, the femoral muscle traverses the femoral triangle. Within this area, the femoral artery passes close enough to the surface of the skin that the pulsations of the heart can be felt. Within this region, there are several branches which extend from the femoral artery to complete the blood demands of the thigh muscle. The hamstring muscles are supplied by the largest of the femoral artery branches, the deep femoral artery.


The muscles of the proximal end of the femur are supplied by the lateral and medial circumflex femoral arteries. Once the femoral artery overtakes the posterior aspect of the knee, it then transforms into the popliteal artery which provides the knee joint with the needed supply via small offshoots.

This artery then segregates into two new arteries, the posterior and anterior tibal artery. Each of the tibial arteries provide their dedicated region with blood flow, including the appropriate muscles surrounding the tibia and extending downward into the foot. Once this artery reaches the ankle joint, it converges to become dorsal pedal artery which is responsible for supplying the superior region of the foot and the ankle. The dorsal pedal artery then transforms into the dorsal arch of the foot.


The dorsal pedal artery is a very informative artery when medical information is required in regard to the pulsation of the heart. The pulse can be taken here, and since it is the most distal region of the body, much information can be drawn not only about the condition of the leg’s circulation, but circulation of the entire body.

The peroneal muscles of the leg are cared for by the peroneal artery which is a distinct branch from the tibial artery. The posterior tibial artery then bifurcates into the lateral and medial plantar arteries within the ankle to direct blood flow into the sole of the foot. Forming the plantar arch, the lateral plantar artery conjoins the dorsal pedal artery which creates a nearly identical structure to that in the hand. The toes are supplied by the arteries which extend from the plantar arch.
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