Deep femoral artery
The deep femoral artery (profunda femoris artery) is the largest branch of the femoral artery, located deep within the thigh. It originates approximately 3 cm below to the inguinal ligament and courses inferiorly along the medial aspect of the femur. The artery terminates at the lower third of the thigh by anastomosing with the muscular branches of the popliteal artery.
|Branches||Medial circumflex femoral artery, Lateral circumflex femoral artery, Perforating femoral artery|
|Supply||Extensors of the thigh, flexors of the thigh, adductors of the thigh, skin of the medial thigh region, proximal aspect of femur|
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the deep femoral artery.
The deep femoral artery originates from the posterolateral aspect of the femoral artery. It courses inferiorly, parallel to its parent artery and then passes deep to it, towards the medial aspect of the femur. It travels between the pectineus and adductor longus muscles, and then passes between the adductor longus and adductor brevis muscles.
The deep femoral artery then continues its course between the adductor longus and adductor magnus muscles, pierces the adductor magnus and ends by anastomosing with the muscular branches of the popliteal artery.
Branches and supply
Along its course, the deep femoral artery gives off several branches:
- The lateral circumflex femoral artery is the first branch of the deep femoral artery. It courses laterally, wrapping around the proximal femur. It terminates on the anterior aspect of the proximal femur by dividing into three branches: ascending, transverse and descending branches. These branches provide supply for the proximal aspect of the femur, quadriceps femoris muscle and the adjacent portion of the skin of the thigh.
- The medial circumflex femoral artery passes around the posterior aspect of the femur, where it splits into two terminal branches: transverse and ascending. These branches provide supply for the adductors of the thigh.
- The perforating femoral arteries pierce the proximal part of the adductor magnus muscle to appear in the flexor compartment of the thigh. The upper three perforators are considered as the 'true' collateral branches of the deep femoral artery, while the fourth perforator is considered as the terminal branch of the deep femoral artery. These four arteries collectively supply the muscles of the posterior thigh.
The first perforating branch of the femoral artery participates in comprising the cruciate anastomosis. This is an arterial network that lies at the level of the femoral head, near the inferior margin of the femoral attachment of quadratus femoris. Besides the first perforator, the medial and lateral circumflex femoral arteries and the inferior gluteal artery participate in the cruciate anastomosis. The function of this anastomosis is to provide an alternative route for the blood supply of the lower limb in case of external iliac artery blood flow obstruction.
To learn more about the femoral artery and its branches check out our other articles, videos, labeled diagrams and quizzes.
Most commonly, the deep femoral artery arises from the lateral aspect of the femoral artery. However, according to some authors, in approximately 40% of the cases, it can arise from the posterior aspect, and in about 30% from the posterolateral aspect of the femoral artery.