Maintenance of the Body
Arteries of the Pelvis and Lower Limbs
At the level of the sacroiliac joints, the
common iliac arteries
divide into two major branches, the internal and external iliac
. Te internal iliacs distribute blood
mainly to the pelvic region. Te external iliacs primarily serve
the lower limbs but also send branches to the abdominal wall.
Description and Distribution
Internal iliac arteries.
Tese paired arteries run into the pelvis
and distribute blood to the pelvic walls and viscera (bladder
and rectum, plus the uterus and vagina in the female and the
prostate and ductus deferens in the male). Additionally they
serve the gluteal muscles via the
, adductor muscles of the medial thigh via the
, and external genitalia and perineum via the
nal pudendal artery
External iliac arteries.
Tese arteries supply the lower limbs
(Figure 19.25b). As they course through the pelvis, they give
oﬀ branches to the anterior abdominal wall. A±er passing un-
der the inguinal ligaments to enter the thigh, they become the
As each of these arteries passes down the
anteromedial thigh, it gives oﬀ several branches to the thigh
muscles. Te largest of the deep branches is the
of the thigh
(also called the
deep femoral artery
), which is the
main supply to the thigh muscles (hamstrings, quadriceps, and
adductors). Proximal branches of the deep femoral artery, the
medial circumﬂex femoral arteries
, encircle the
neck of the femur. Te medial circumﬂex artery is the major
vessel to the head of the femur. If it is torn in a hip fracture, the
bone tissue of the head of the femur dies. A long descending
branch of the lateral circumﬂex artery supplies the vastus later-
alis muscle. Near the knee the femoral artery passes posteriorly
and through a gap in the adductor magnus muscle, the
, to enter the popliteal fossa, where its name changes
to popliteal artery.
Tis posterior vessel contributes to an arte-
rial anastomosis that supplies the knee region and then splits
into the anterior and posterior tibial arteries of the leg.
Anterior tibial artery.
Te anterior tibial artery runs through
the anterior compartment of the leg, supplying the extensor
muscles along the way. At the ankle, it becomes the
, which supplies the ankle and dorsum of the
foot, and gives oﬀ a branch, the
, which issues
dorsal metatarsal arteries
to the metatarsus of the foot.
Te superﬁcial dorsalis pedis ends by penetrating into the
sole where it forms the medial part of the
dorsalis pedis artery provides a clinically important pulse
point, the pedal pulse. If the pedal pulse is easily felt, it is
fairly certain that the blood supply to the leg is good.
(a) Schematic flowchart
Arteries of the right pelvis and lower limb.