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Perforating Femoral Arteries
Cardiovascular System

Perforating Femoral Arteries

Arteriae perforantes femoris

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Quick Facts

Origin: Deep femoral artery.

Course: Pierces the adductor magnus and traverses the posterior thigh and gluteal region.

Branches: Muscular, cutaneous, and anastomotic branches

Supplied Structures: Femur, muscles of the adductor and hamstring compartment, overlying cutaneous tissue.

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There are four perforating arteries that arise from the deep femoral artery.


The perforating arteries get their name because they traverse the attachment of the adductor magnus muscle to the femur.

Anteriorly, the perforating arteries sit deep to the adductor longus muscle and superficial to the adductor brevis or adductor magnus muscles. They travel through the gaps in the adductor magnus attachments. Posteriorly, they lie deep to biceps femoris muscle and travel to enter the vastus lateralis muscle. The first perforating artery may lie deep to gluteus maximus muscle.

The adductor brevis muscle can be used as a landmark to locate these vessels during dissection. The first perforating branch lies proximal to the muscle, the second lies anterior, and the third and fourth lie distally.


Each perforating artery gives off muscular, cutaneous, and anastomotic branches which unite with the adjacent vessels.

Supplied Structures

The first perforating artery supplies adductor magnus, the long head of the biceps femoris, and gluteus maximus muscles. It also contributes to the supply of the semimembranosus and semitendinosus muscles. The first perforating artery anastomoses with the second perforating artery, inferior gluteal artery, and the lateral and medial circumflex arteries.

The second perforating artery gives muscular branches to supply adductor brevis and both heads of biceps femoris muscle. It gives off an ascending and descending branch that forms anastomoses with the first and third perforating arteries. Generally, the nutrient artery for the femur originates from the second perforating branch. However, when two nutrient arteries exist, they tend to arise from the first and third perforating branches.

The third perforating artery gives an ascending and descending branch that forms anastomoses with the second and fourth perforating arteries, as well as the muscular branches of the popliteal artery. In particular, it contributes to the supply of the short head of biceps femoris muscle.

The fourth perforating artery is the terminal portion of the deep femoral artery as it traverses and supplies the adductor magnus muscle. It may also supply the short head of biceps femoris muscle (Standring, 2016).


Standring, S. (2016) Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. Gray's Anatomy Series 41st edition edn.: Elsevier Limited.

Learn more about this topic from other Elsevier products

Femoral Artery

ScienceDirect image

The CFA is defined as the continuation of the external iliac artery from the level of the inguinal ligament to its bifurcation into the profunda femoris artery and the SFA.

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