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Common iliac artery

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Major arteries of the hip, thigh, lower leg and foot.
Common iliac artery (Arteria iliaca communis)

The common iliac artery (CIA) is a short artery transporting blood from the aorta towards the pelvic region and lower extremity.

Sometimes this paired artery is also referred to as its plural form common iliac arteries. The left and right common iliac arteries are the terminal branches of the abdominal aorta. They give off small branches to surrounding structures before dividing into the internal and external iliac artery.

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the common iliac artery.

Key facts about the common iliac artery
Origin Abdominal aorta
Branches Internal and external iliac arteries, branches to peritoneum, psoas major muscle, ureter, and adjacent nerves
Supply Lower extremity (via external iliac artery), pelvis and its viscera (via internal iliac artery), peritoneum, psoas major muscle, ureter, surrounding tissues, lymph nodes and nerves
  1. Origin and course
  2. Branches and supply
  3. Sources
+ Show all

Origin and course

The common iliac artery arises from the aortic bifurcation at the L4 level. The left and right common iliac arteries diverge while descending towards and into the pelvis on the medial aspect of the psoas major muscle. Anterior to the sacroiliac joint, they each divide into their terminal branches; the internal and external iliac arteries.

The right common iliac artery is approximately 1 cm longer than its left counterpart, due to the aortic bifurcation being slightly to the left of the midline. It runs anterior to the right sympathetic trunk and to the distal part of the right common iliac vein. The ureter crosses it at the level of its division into the external and internal iliac arteries.

The left common iliac artery runs lateral to the left common iliac vein and anterior to the left sympathetic trunk. It is crossed by the superior rectal artery as well as distally by the ureter.

Test your knowledge on the main arteries of the lower limb with the following quiz.

Branches and supply

In addition to the internal and external iliac arteries, the common iliac artery gives off small branches to surrounding tissues and lymph nodes, the peritoneum, the psoas major muscle and the ureter. Via the external iliac artery it provides blood supply to the lower extremity, whereas the internal iliac artery supplies the pelvis and its viscera.

Learn more about the main arteries of the lower limb and cardinal blood vessels of the human body with our following selection of learning materials.

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