The adductor canal, also known as Hunter’s canal or subsartorial canal, is a cone-shaped intermuscular passageway located in the distal two-thirds of the medial aspect of the thigh. This canal, which is approximately 8 to 15 cm long, extends from the apex of the femoral triangle to the adductor hiatus. It serves as a passageway for structures between the anterior thigh and the popliteal region.
This article will help you learn the anatomy and function of the adductor canal.
|Location||Distal two-thirds of the medial aspect of the thigh|
|Borders||Proximal border: Apex of femoral triangle
Distal border: Adductor hiatus
Anterolateral border: Vastus medialis muscle
Anteromedial border: Subsartorial fascia
Posteromedial border: Adductor longus and magnus muscles
|Main contents||Femoral artery, femoral vein, saphenous nerve|
The adductor canal is roughly triangular in cross-section. It is commonly described as having anterolateral, posteromedial and anteromedial borders. An expanded approach includes also the proximal and distal borders:
- Proximal border: This border corresponds to the beginning of the adductor canal. It occupies the apex of the femoral triangle at the anterosuperior part of the thigh, where the medial borders of the sartorius and adductor longus muscles cross each other.
- Distal border: This is the end of the adductor canal at the adductor hiatus, a big gap between the adductor magnus muscle and the femur. This hiatus allows the passage of the femoral artery and vein from the anterior thigh to the posterior thigh and then the popliteal fossa, where they become the popliteal artery and vein.
- Anterolateral border: The canal is bounded anterolaterally by the vastus medialis muscle.
- Anteromedial border (roof): This border is made of the vasto-adductor or subsartorial fascia found deep to the sartorius muscle. This fascia extends between the vastus medialis muscle and adductor longus and adductor magnus muscles.
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Between the vasto-adductor fascia and the sartorius muscle is the subsartorial space or compartment which can be misunderstood as the adductor/subsartorial canal. These two structures should be distinguished. The subsartorial compartment contains a muscular branch of the femoral nerve.
If you want to learn more about the muscles of the thigh, check our study unit below!
The adductor canal contains several neurovascular structures. These structures are the femoral artery, the femoral vein, the descending genicular and muscular branches of the femoral artery and their corresponding venous tributaries, and the saphenous nerve. After passing through the adductor hiatus, the femoral vessels become the popliteal vessels. At this level, the saphenous nerve descends and pierces the fascia lata between the tendons of the sartorius and gracilis muscles, becoming subcutaneous.
Some authors include the nerve to vastus medialis (before it enters the muscle) as a content of the adductor canal.
Want to explore the neurovasculature of the hip and thigh? Check the following study unit!
Adductor Canal Compression Syndrome
Adductor Canal Compression Syndrome (ACCS) is a rare clinical condition found in young and physically active individuals, usually males. The syndrome is a direct result of the compression of the neurovasculature of the adductor canal, most commonly the femoral artery. The compression of the neurovascular bundle results from musculotendinous fibrous bands or even hypertrophy of the adductor magnus or vastus medialis muscles. The symptoms include claudication (pain while walking), paresthesia, edema (due to vein compression), or even thrombosis (which may lead to acute limb ischemia). The treatment is usually surgical (decompression).
Adductor canal: want to learn more about it?
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