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Neurovasculature of the leg and knee: want to learn more about it?

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Neurovasculature of the leg and knee

Learning objectives:

After going through this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Name the arteries of the knee and leg and their supply areas.
  2. List the major veins of this region and their drainage areas.
  3. Describe both motor and sensory nerve supply of this region.

Watch video

The neurovasculature of the knee and leg can be organized around three main structures found in this region:

  • The popliteal artery is the major contributor to arterial supply of this region giving off several branches to the leg (e.g. anterior tibial artery, posterior tibial artery, sural arteries) and genicular arteries around the region of the knee joint.
  • The popliteal vein drains this region as far as up as the adductor canal. It receives the anterior and posterior tibial veins and other vessels such as the small saphenous vein that carries blood from the lateral surface of the leg. The great saphenous vein drains the medial surface of the leg. 
  • The tibial and common fibular nerves (terminal branches of the sciatic nerve) and their branches provide most of the motor and sensory supply to the leg. (Additional cutaneous innervation is also provided by the saphenous nerve, a terminal branch of the femoral nerve).

Feeling excited to step into the ‘underground’ supply of the leg and knee? Take a look at the next video and dig into it!

Take a quiz

Take the following quiz to test and reinforce your knowledge about this topic.

Take a quiz on other neurovascular structures of the lower limb, or customize your quiz entirely, choosing the terms that you want to be tested on:

Browse atlas

Analyze each neurovascular structure of the knee and leg in our atlas gallery:

Summary

Key points about neurovasculature of the knee and leg
Arteries of the knee and leg Genicular anastomosis:
Five genicular branches of popliteal artery (superior and inferior medial, superior and inferior lateral, middle genicular arteries)
Anterior and posterior tibial recurrent arteries
Descending branches of femoral and lateral circumflex arteries
Circumflex fibular branch of posterior tibial artery
Leg:

Popliteal artery
Anterior tibial artery
Posterior tibial artery
Fibular artery
Veins of the knee and leg Popliteal vein
Anterior tibial veins
Posterior tibial veins
Fibular veins
Small saphenous vein
Great saphenous vein
Nerves of the knee and leg Femoral nerve:
Saphenous nerve
Sciatic nerve:

Tibial nerve
Common fibular nerve (superficial and deep fibular nerves, lateral sural cutaneous nerve)
Sural nerve (medial sural cutaneous nerve)
Muscular innervation Superficial fibular nerve: Fibularis longus, fibularis brevis muscle
Deep fibular nerve:
Tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, fibularis tertius, extensor hallucis longus
Tibial nerve:
Gastrocnemius, popliteus, soleus, plantaris, tibialis posterior, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis longus
Cutaneous innervation Saphenous nerve: Anteromedial aspect of knee
Lateral sural cutaneous nerve: Proximal posterolateral aspect of leg
Superficial fibular nerve:
Distal lateral aspect of leg 
Sural nerve: Posterior aspect of leg

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