The perineal artery is a terminal branch of the internal pudendal artery, supplying blood to the perineal structures inferior to the pelvic diaphragm. It passes within the superficial perineal pouch towards the scrotum in the male and the labia majora in the female.
Within the superficial perineal pouch, the perineal artery divides into two sets of arteries; transverse perineal artery, posterior scrotal arteries and artery of bulb of penis in males, and labial arteries and artery of bulb of vestibule in females. These branches supply various structures of the perineum, such as the perineal body, transverse perinei muscles and skin of the perineal region.
This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the perineal artery.
|Origin||Internal pudendal artery|
|Branches||Transverse perineal, posterior scrotal (males), labial arteries (female)|
Both sexes: perineal body, transverse perinei muscles
Male: posterior attachment of the bulb of the penis, scrotal skin, dartos muscle of the scrotum, bulbospongiosus and ischiocavernosus muscles
Female: skin of the labia majora and minora, bulb of vestibule
Origin and course
The perineal artery arises from the internal pudendal artery as it exits from the pudendal canal, medial to the ischial tuberosity. It pierces the perineal membrane and enters the superficial perineal pouch where it divides into its terminal branches. Along its course, the perineal artery passes between and supplies the bulbospongiosus and ischiocavernosus muscles.
Branches and supply
During its course in the superficial perineal pouch, the perineal artery divides into the transverse perineal artery, posterior scrotal arteries in males, and labial arteries in females.
- Transverse perineal artery: courses inferiorly to the superficial transverse perineal muscle towards the midline, where it anastomoses with the posterior scrotal and inferior rectal arteries. The transverse perineal artery supplies the perineal body, transverse perinei muscles and the posterior attachment of the bulb of the penis.
- Posterior scrotal arteries: usually arise as a pair of arteries that run in the superficial fascia of the posterior scrotum. These branches supply the scrotal skin, dartos muscle and perineal muscles.
- Artery of bulb of penis: arises from the perineal artery and gives off branches which supply the bulb of the urethra and the corpus spongiosum.
- Labial arteries: the female equivalent of the posterior scrotal arteries, these arise as a pair of arteries that run in the labia majora. The labial arteries supply the skin of the labia majora and minora.
- Artery of bulb of vestibule: arises from the perineal artery and supplies the vestibular bulbs in females.