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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus II: Cardiovascular System: Arteries: Lower Limb: Profunda Femoris Artery

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Opus II: Cardiovascular System: Arteries: Lower Limb

Profunda Femoris Artery

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed

This artery may course lateral, medial or anterior to the femoral artery. If it arises from the medial aspect of the femoral, the femoral may appear to split into three vessels of almost equal caliber: femoral, profunda and lateral circumflex. Srb (1860) though that its position depended on whether it furnished the medial circumflex or not; the lateral circumflex tends to draw the profunda laterally.

The profunda may pass medially superficial to the vein, and then continue in its usual way.

In 200 limbs, the usual origin of the medial and lateral circumflex was found in 123 specimens, the medial arose from the femoral in in 41, and the lateral arose from the femoral in 26 specimens.

The profunda may be underdeveloped and terminate as the second or third perforating. If overdeveloped, it courses medial to the biceps femoris in the popliteal fossa to supply the popliteal region.

The profunda may be absent, its branches coming directly from the superficial trunk.

The variations of the profunda and its branches are numerous, and, to a considerable extent, largely associated with one another. The various vessels of the profunda complex may more or less dissociate, one or another of them having an independent origin from the femoral; this may occur to such an extent that a profunda femoris as a definite vessel may not exist.

The point of origin of the profunda from the femoral is usually stated to be about 4 cm distant from the inguinal ligament, but the figure must be taken as an average from which there may be wide departures. Thus, in 430 thighs, Quain found that the distance from the inguinal ligament of the origin of the profunda was between 2.5 and 5.1 cm in 68%; of these it was between 2.5 and 3.8 cm in 42.6%. This distance was less than 2.5 cm in 24.6% of the thighs and more than 5.1 cm in only 7.4%. Quain's data are as follows: origin at the inguinal ligament, seven cases; 0-1.3 cm below the inguinal ligament, 13; 1.3-2.5 cm below, 86; 2.5-3.8 cm below, 183; 3.8-5.1 below, 109; 5.1-6.3 below, 19; 6.6-7.6 cm below, 12; and 11.6 below, 1 case.

The median number of perforating arteries has been reported to be three, although two to six may be found (not including the termination of profunda femoris).

Rare variations of profunda femoris include: absence of the artery, perforating arteries arising from the femoral and from the medial circumflex femoral, and the profunda passing in front of the femoral artery and vein.

Unusual branches include: the inferior epigastric, obturator, dorsal artery of the penis, circumflex iliac, external pudendal, and accessory perforating arteries.

No side, sex or ethnic differences have been reported.

Image 128A, Image 128B, Image 268


Anson, B.J., Ed. (1966) Morris' Human Anatomy, 12th ed., The Blakiston Division, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York.

Bergman, R.A., Thompson, S.A., Afifi, A.K. and F.A. Saadeh. (1988) Compendium of Human Anatomic Variation: Catalog, Atlas and World Literature. Urban & Schwarzenberg, Baltimore and Munich.

Bloda, E., Sierocinski, W. and A. Kling. (1982) Variation of the profunda femoris in man. Folia Morphol., Warsaw 41:123-131.

Chang, S.C., Chen, E.Y. and W.L. Sung. (1963) Observations on the deep and circumflex femoral arteries in Chinese. Acta Anat. Sinica. 8:282-292.

Friedlowsky, A. (1867) Ueber einen Fall von abnormen Verlauf der Arteria profunda femoris. Allgemeine Wiener Medizinische Zeitung 12:102-103.

Johnston, T.B. (1912) A rare anomaly of the arteria profunda femoris. Anat. Anz. 42:269-272.

Lenormant, Ch. et A. Desjardins. (1904) Deux cas d'anomalie de l'artére fémorale profonde. Bulls. et Méms. de la Soc. Anatomique de Paris 6:121-123.

Lipshutz, B.B. (1916) Studies on the vascular tree: I. A composite study of the femoral artery. Anat. Rec. 10:361-370.

Malenoski, I.S. (1913) (Rare anomalie of the deep femoral artery).(In Russian) Khirurgiia 34:440-443.

Porter, M.F. (1882) Abnormalities of the arterial system. The Cincinnati Lancet and Clinic 9:411-412.

Poynter, C.W.M. (1922) Congenital anomalies of the arteries and veins of the human body with bibliography. University Studies of the University of Nebraska. 22:1-106.

Senior, H.D. (1919) The development of the arteries of the lower extremity. Am. J. Anat. 25:55-95.

Senior, H.D. (1924) The description of the larger direct or indirect muscular branches of the human femoral artery: A morphogenetic study. Am. J. Anat. 33:243-266.

Senior, H.D. (1925) An interpretation of the recorded arterial anomalies of the human pelvis and thigh. Am. J. Anat. 36:1-46.

Srb, J. (1860) Ueber das Verhalten der Arteria profunda femoris. Oesterreichische Zeitschr. für practische Heilkunde. 6 (No. 1):1-6.

Young, A.H. (1879) Abnormal arrangement of the branches of the femoral artery. Note on the absence of profunda femoris. J. Anat. Physiol. 13:154-156.

Zaaijer, T. (1865) De hooge oorsprong der arteria profunda femoris. Nederlandsch Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde 9 (II):241-247.

Zaaijer, T. (1894) Seltene Abweichung (Schlingenbildung um die Vena cruralis) der Arteria profunda femoris. Anat. Anz. 9:502-508.

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