Blood Vessels

Blood Vessels of the Lower Limbs

Blood Vessels of Lower Limbs

The external iliac arteries supply blood to the lower limbs.

The lower limbs share some vessels with the pelvis. Common iliac arteries arising from the aorta divide into internal and external iliac arteries. The external iliac artery is the artery that supplies blood to the lower limbs. It forms four descending branches as it moves from the pectoral girdle. The pulse of the first, the upper thigh's femoral artery, can be felt at a spot called the femoral triangle. It branches into the deep femoral artery, which supplies the hamstring muscles, and the circumflex femoral arteries, which supply the femur and hamstrings. The femoral artery continues behind the knee as the popliteal artery, supplying the knee before branching into anterior and posterior tibial arteries. The anterior tibial extends into the anterior leg, lateral to the tibia. It supplies extensor muscles and then gives rise to two branches. The dorsal pedal artery crosses the ankle and foot dorsum (top), and the arcuate artery forms the foot's metatarsal arteries. The posterior tibial artery supplies flexor muscles in the midposterior leg and gives rise to three branches. The fibular (peroneal) artery supplies lateral peroneal muscles. The posterior tibial artery divides at the ankle into lateral and medial plantar arteries, which supply the foot's plantar surface. The plantar arch gives off the toes' digital arteries.

Blood drains the lower limbs from the toes to the inferior vena cava, through deep and superficial veins. Deep veins begin with the toes' digital veins, which drain into the plantar venous arch, which itself empties into the posterior tibial vein. The posterior tibial passes deep up the calf, draining the fibular (peroneal) vein. The foot's dorsum drains into the dorsal pedal vein, which ascends between the tibia and fibula as the anterior tibial vein. Anterior and posterior tibial veins merge into the popliteal vein behind the knee. The small saphenous vein travels up the foot and calf, emptying into the popliteal vein. The popliteal vein continues as the femoral vein into the thigh, where it drains into the deep thigh muscles that surround the femur bone. The femoral vein unites with the great saphenous vein to form the external iliac vein. This merges with the internal iliac vein to form the common iliac vein. The paired common iliacs merge to produce the inferior vena cava. Superficial veins include the foot's dorsal venous arch and two saphenous veins. The great saphenous is the body's longest vein, moving from the dorsal venous arch up the midthigh to empty into the femoral vein.
The external iliac artery supplies all blood reaching the lower limbs. Blood drains from lower limb structures through deep and superficial veins that eventually empty into the external iliac vein.