External iliac artery

External iliac artery

Bifurcation of the aorta and the right common iliac artery - side view. (External iliac artery is artery at upper left, seen splitting from common iliac artery at top.)

The relations of the femoral and abdominal inguinal rings, seen from within the abdomen. Right side. (External iliac artery is large artery at center, and inguinal ligament runs from upper right to lower left. When the artery crosses the ligament, it becomes the femoral artery.)
Source common iliac arteries
Branches femoral arteries, inferior epigastric arteries
Vein external iliac veins
Latin arteria iliaca externa
TA A12.2.16.002
FMA 18805

Anatomical terminology

The external iliac arteries are two major arteries which bifurcate off the common iliac arteries anterior to the sacroiliac joint of the pelvis. They proceed anterior and inferior along the medial border of the psoas major muscles. They exit the pelvic girdle posterior and inferior to the inguinal ligament about one third laterally from the insertion point of the inguinal ligament on the pubic tubercle at which point they are referred to as the femoral arteries.[1] The external iliac artery is usually the artery used to attach the renal artery to the recipient of a kidney transplant.


Front of abdomen, showing common iliac artery, the source of the external iliac artery

The external iliac artery arises from the bifurcation of the common iliac artery. It travels inferiorly, anteriorly, and laterally, making its way to the lower limb:


Branch Description
Inferior epigastric artery Goes upward to anastomose with superior epigastric artery (a branch of internal thoracic artery).
Deep circumflex iliac artery Goes laterally, travelling along the iliac crest of the pelvic bone.
Femoral artery Terminal branch. When the external iliac artery passes posterior to the inguinal ligament, its name changes to femoral artery.

The abdominal aorta divides to form the "common iliac arteries" in the lower abdomen, and these vessels supply blood to the pelvic organs, gluteal region, and legs. Each common iliac artery descends a short distance and divides into an internal and an external branch. The external iliac artery provides the main blood supply to the legs. It passes down along the brim of the pelvis and gives off two large branches - the "inferior epigastric artery" and a "deep circumflex artery." These vessels supply blood to the muscles and skin in the lower abdominal wall. The external iliac artery passes beneath the inguinal ligament in the lower part of the abdomen and becomes the femoral artery.

Additional images

See also


  1. Tortora, Gerard J.; Grabowski, Sandra R. (2003). Roesch, Bonnie, ed. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology: Volume 4 Maintenance and Continuity of the Human Body (Textbook). 4 (10th ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 734. ISBN 0-471-22934-2.

External links

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