EN | DE | PT Get help How to study Login Register

Popliteal artery : want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Popliteal artery

The popliteal artery is one of the major arteries of the leg. It is a continuation of the femoral artery, travels across the popliteal fossa, and finally bifurcates into the anterior and posterior tibial ends. Across it journey it gives off numerous branches that supply several structures such as the knee joint and its components, together with major muscles of the leg.

The popliteal artery passes through the popliteal fossa and ends at the lower border of the popliteus muscle, where it branches into its two terminal branches; the anterior and posterior tibial arteries.

Key facts about the popliteal artery
Source Femoral artery
Branches

Anterior tibial artery
Posterior tibial artery

Sural artery

Superior lateral genicular artery
Superior medial genicular artery
Middle genicular artery
Inferior lateral genicular artery
Inferior medial genicular artery

Supplies Knee joint, leg muscles

This article will discuss the anatomy and course of the popliteal artery.

Course

The popliteal artery is the continuation of the femoral artery that begins at the level of the adductor hiatus in the adductor magnus muscle of the thigh. As it continues down, it runs across the popliteal fossa, posterior to the knee joint. The popliteal artery passes obliquely through the popliteal fossa and then travels between the gastrocnemius and popliteal muscles of the posterior compartment of the leg.

It then continues into the deep part of the posterior compartment of the leg, passing under the tendinous arch between the two heads of the gastrocnemius and immediately bifurcates into the anterior and posterior tibial arteries. The popliteal artery is the deepest vascular structure of the popliteal fosa, running closely to the knee’s capsule.

For the complete course of the poplieal artery and its branches, take a look below:

Branches

The popliteal artery is the major contributor to the blood supply of the knee joint. Despite its short course, the popliteal artery has several branches:

Genicular branches/arteries

The popliteal artery gives off five genicular branches that contribute to the periarticular genicular anastamosis that supply the knee joint capsule and ligaments. The five branches are:

  • Superior lateral genicular artery
  • Superior medial genicular artery
  • Middle genicular artery
  • Inferior lateral genicular artery
  • Inferior medial genicular artery

The superior lateral and medial genicular arteries arise from the popliteal artery and curve around their respective femoral condyles, supplying the bone of the femoral condyles, the adjacent synovium of the knee joint and the superior part of the patella.

The single and smaller middle genicular artery branches off the popliteal artery behind the distal femoral intercondylar region where it runs anteriorly and penetrates the posterior part of the knee joint capsule. It supplies the posterior cruciate ligament, the posterior part of the anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior aspects of the menisci.

The inferior lateral and medial genicular arteries branch off the popliteal artery and run around the tibial condyles, deep to the collateral ligaments of the knee. These arteries supply the adjacent areas including the joint capsule of the knee, the collateral ligaments and tendons, the anterior part of the anterior cruciate ligament and the inferior part of the patella.

Muscular branches

The popliteal artery has various muscular branches that provide vascular supply to the hamstring, gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris muscles. The superior muscular branches of the popliteal artery anastamose with the deep femoral and gluteal arteries of the thigh.

Do you want to learn the branches of the popliteal artery in an easy way? Take advantage of the scientifically proven active recall method to propel your learning and crush your upcoming exams!

Sural arteries

The sural arteries are large vessels that arise on each side of the popliteal artery to provide a vascular supply to the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris muscle.

Tibial arteries

When the popliteal artery ends at the inferior border of the popliteus muscle it bifurcates into the anterior and posterior tibial arteries.

Popliteal artery : want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

What do you prefer to learn with?

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!