Femoral Artery: What to Know (2024)

The femoral artery is one of the major blood vessels in your body. It carries blood to the lower half of your body. Blood circulation is an essential function since the tissues in your body need the oxygen and nutrients that blood carries. The femoral artery is important because it serves as an access point to perform different kinds of endovascular surgeries.

What Is the Femoral Artery?

The femoral artery is tasked with delivering blood to your lower limbs and part of the anterior abdominal wall. This artery begins near your groin, in your upper thigh, and follows down your leg to the back of your knee. Along the way, it branches off into different sections. The artery itself runs in a straight line.

You have one femoral artery in each leg, so each artery is responsible for carrying blood to that side of the body. These arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart and deliver it where it's needed. The femoral vein runs next to the artery to return the blood without oxygen back to the heart.

What Does the Femoral Artery Do?

The femoral artery’s function is to bring blood to the lower half of your body. It’s a continuation of another artery, the external iliac artery, which changes names when it passes through the inguinal ligament. This ligament is a fibrous band that marks the change from your pelvis to your lower limbs.

Femoral artery anatomy. The different branches of the femoral artery have different jobs to do. The first part of the femoral artery, the common femoral artery, is an extension of another artery in the pelvis called the external iliac artery. Its branches bring blood to the tissues in your pubic area, groin, and abdominal wall. The deep femoral artery branches off from the common femoral artery, bringing blood to tissues deep in your thigh. It also brings blood to your hips, buttocks, and femur. Lastly, there’s the superficial femoral artery, which also branches off from the common femoral artery. It carries blood to your lower leg, including part of your knee and the front part of your thigh.

Where Is the Femoral Artery Located?

In the top third of your thigh, there's an area called the femoral triangle. The borders of this triangle are the inguinal ligament, the adductor longus muscle, and the sartorius muscle. You can see the femoral triangle when you flex the muscles around it. The femoral artery is located in this triangle, close to the surface of your skin.

Femoral artery size. The femoral artery is 4 centimeters long and lies near the femoral head. This is the ball-shaped bone at the top of the femur bone that fits in the socket between your hip and your pelvis. While the length of the femoral artery is the same for most people, its diameter varies depending on factors like:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Ethnicity
  • Sex

On average, the common femoral artery is between 7 and 8 millimeters in diameter, considering these factors.

Signs Something Could Be Wrong With Your Femoral Artery

While you might not be able to feel pain or discomfort in the femoral artery itself, some people do feel pain in this area that could be linked to different conditions. Some symptoms that you should look out for include:

  • Leg pain when walking (claudication)
  • Numbness or weakness in your legs
  • Skin on your legs that’s shiny or changes color
  • Your lower leg or foot feeling cold, especially when you compare it to the other side of your body
  • Hair loss on your legs or hair that’s slower to grow back
  • Toenails that grow slowly
  • Sores on your legs, feet, or toes that won’t heal
  • No or weak pulse in your feet or legs
  • Pain or cramping in your hips, thighs, calves, or arms when doing low- or moderate-impact activities
  • Erectile dysfunction

If you notice these symptoms, especially if you're having trouble walking, you should speak with your doctor.

What Conditions Affect the Femoral Artery?

The most common condition that affects the femoral artery is peripheral artery disease (PAD). When this happens, your arteries narrow so that your blood has a harder time flowing to your arms and legs. It’s a form of cardiovascular disease since it affects your blood vessels.

PAD is usually caused by the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries, called atherosclerosis. Most people can control PAD with some lifestyle changes, but if you have a severe blockage, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove the plaque and buildup. There are two different surgeries to unblock the femoral artery, femoral popliteal bypass and percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) of the femoral arteries.

Claudication can be a symptom of PAD and causes pain in the lower half of your body when you walk. The pain can make you limp and make your legs feel tired from everyday movement. Some people feel pain lying in bed at night or simply sitting. This could be a sign that your arteries are becoming harder or more blocked, so you should talk to your doctor.

How Can You Keep Your Femoral Artery Healthy?

Since your femoral artery is a major blood vessel, you can keep it and your other vessels healthy by making some lifestyle changes. Not only can this help to prevent claudication and the development of PAD, but it can also help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

If you already have PAD and are experiencing symptoms that aren’t severe enough for surgery, one of the best things you can do is get out and walk every day. Walking is a great exercise for your blood vessels. You should also stop smoking if you’re a smoker.

Other things you can do to care for your femoral artery and blood vessels include:

  • Lower your alcohol intake
  • Watch and manage your blood pressure
  • Watch your cholesterol levels
  • Eat a heart-healthy and balanced diet that’s low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight
Femoral Artery: What to Know (2024)


Femoral Artery: What to Know? ›

The femoral

Your femoral vein is a large blood vessel in your thigh. This vein collects deoxygenated blood from tissues in your lower leg and helps move it to your heart. Once blood reaches your heart, it receives oxygen and moves back out to your body through your arteries.
https://my.clevelandclinic.org › body › 23041-femoral-vein
artery is a major blood vessel in your body. It carries blood from the bottom of your abdomen down through your lower limbs. This artery starts in the upper front part of your thigh, near the groin. It separates into several branches along its route.

What are some facts about the femoral artery? ›

The femoral artery crosses the femoral vein and femoral nerve in such a way as to form a triangle near the groin region. This portion is known as the “femoral triangle” or “Scarpa's triangle.” It serves as a crucial anatomical landmark for surgeons when surgery needs to be performed in the region.

How do you check the femoral artery? ›

Press deeply, below the inguinal ligament and about midway between symphysis pubis and anterior superior iliac spine. Use two hands one on top of the other to feel the femoral pulse. Note the adequacy of the pulse volume. Rate the strength of the pulse as 0 (absent), 1+ (decreased) and 2+ (normal).

How do you know if your femoral artery is blocked? ›

Signs Something Could Be Wrong With Your Femoral Artery

Leg pain when walking (claudication) Numbness or weakness in your legs. Skin on your legs that's shiny or changes color. Your lower leg or foot feeling cold, especially when you compare it to the other side of your body.

Is it hard to cut the femoral artery? ›

Although it is an uncommon site for a penetrating wound, the femoral artery is quite vulnerable to injury as it lies superficially unprotected by muscles or bony structures.

Why is the femoral artery important? ›

The superficial femoral artery plays a crucial role in delivering oxygenated blood to the entire lower leg. Before entering the adductor canal, it gives off the descending genicular artery that supplies part of the knee.

Should I be able to feel my femoral artery? ›

This artery is covered by a lot of tissue and can be difficult to identify, so you may need to push pretty hard. Even then, it may not be palpable, which is not clinically important if you can still identify the more distal pulses (see below).

What happens if your femoral artery is blocked? ›

Long-term narrowing or total blockage of the femoral artery can cause claudication, fatigue and painful cramping in the calf muscles when walking. In extreme situations, a blocked artery in your leg can lead to amputation (removal) of your toes, foot or leg.

How far down the leg does the femoral artery go? ›

The artery stems from the iliac artery, which is located in the pelvis. The femoral artery starts in the lower abdomen and goes through the thigh, which is how blood is circulated through the legs. It ends around the back of the knee, as the artery then becomes a popliteal artery.

Where is the easiest place to access the femoral artery? ›

One should aim roughly at the bottom of the upper inner quadrant of the femoral head in an anterior-posterior projection. Vascular calcification can also provide a target.

What side is your femoral artery on? ›

The femoral artery. The spermatic cord in the inguinal canal. Front of right thigh, showing surface markings for bones, femoral artery and femoral nerve. Femoral artery and its major branches - right thigh, anterior view.

Where to palpate for a femoral artery? ›

The femoral pulse may be the most sensitive in septic shock assessment and is routinely checked during resuscitation. [3] It is palpated distal to the inguinal ligament less than halfway from the pubis to the anterior superior iliac spine.

What are the red flags for peripheral artery disease? ›

Persistent or intermittent leg pain (claudication) or cramping when walking. Numbness or loss of sensation in the affected limb. Sores that heal slowly or fail to heal. Differences between limbs in relation to color and/or warmth.

What are the symptoms of clogged arteries in your legs? ›

  • Coldness in the lower leg or foot, especially when compared with the other side.
  • Leg numbness or weakness.
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in the legs or feet.
  • Painful cramping in one or both of the hips, thighs or calf muscles after certain activities, such as walking or climbing stairs.
  • Shiny skin on the legs.
Jun 21, 2022

Is walking good for blocked arteries in the legs? ›

Walking is often considered the best exercise for those with peripheral arterial disease. If you have this condition, this may seem counterintuitive. Unfortunately, walking often inflames PAD and causes pain in the legs. However, don't let this keep you from exercising.

How big is femoral artery? ›

Age (years)P valueFemoral diameter (mm)
24.0 ± 3.87.5 ± 0.7
39.8 ± 5.910.0 ± 1.0
42.5 ± 4.98.2 ± 0.6
9 more rows

How deep is the femoral artery? ›

The deep femoral artery is a large and important branch that arises from the lateral side of the femoral artery about 1.5 in. (4 cm) below the inguinal ligament. It passes medially behind the femoral vessels and enters the medial fascial compartment of the thigh.

How big is the average femoral artery? ›

The common femoral artery is a 6.6 mm in diameter (3.9 – 8.9 mm), the superficial femoral artery is 5.2 mm (2.5–9.6 mm) and the deep femoral artery is 4.9 mm (2.7–7.6 mm).

Is the femoral artery the largest artery? ›

The aorta is the largest artery in the body that exits the left ventricle of the heart.

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