The femoral artery (femoralis s. cruralis ; French: artère fémorale ), is that portion of the artery of the lower limb which lies along the upper two-thirds of the thigh, — its limits being marked, above, by Poupart's ligament, and below, by the opening in the great adductor muscle, after passing through which the artery assumes the name popliteal.
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The dorsal artery of the foot (a. dorsalis pedis), the continuation of the anterior tibial artery, extends from the termination of that vessel at the bend of the ankle, to the posterior end of the first metatarsal space, where it divides into two branches, of which one proceeds forwards in the first interosseous space, whilst the other dips into the sole of the foot, and terminates by inosculating with the plantar arch. This vessel, in its course forwards, rests upon the astragalus, the scaphoid, and internal cuneiform bones and their respective articulations. It lies in the interval between the tendon of the proper extensor of the great toe, and that of the long extensor of the other toes ; and is covered by (besides the integument) the fascia of the foot, and by a layer of dense cellular membrane, which binds it to the parts beneath. Near its end, it is crossed by the innermost tendon of the short extensor of the toes.
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Frequent mention has been made of the anastomoses which exist between the branches of the arteries in the lower limb ; and a general view of them may now be taken in order that some idea may be formed of the important influence which they exert in maintaining the circulation of the limb, when the principal artery is obliterated by an operation, or by disease.
It may be remarked, in the first place, that the more important of these anastomoses occur in the neighbourhood of the principal articulations of the limb.
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The anterior tibial artery, [a. tibialis antica,] placed along the fore part of the leg, is at first deeply seated, but, as it descends, gradually approaches nearer to the surface. It extends from the division of the popliteal artery to the bend of the ankle, whence it is afterwards prolonged to the interval between the first and second metatarsal bones, under the name of dorsal artery of the foot.
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From the facts above-mentioned, concerning the peculiarities of the three arteries which supply the leg and foot, it will be seen that all the deviations from the ordinary arrangement, in regard to their size, display a general principle of compensation, by which deficiencies in one vessel are balanced by an increase in the size of another.
It will also be observed, that, whilst the anterior and posterior tibial arteries have a greater tendency to diminish than to increase in size, the peroneal artery, on the contrary, is the vessel which is the most frequently enlarged. The anterior and posterior tibials, however, occasionally assist each other, especially in the supply of arteries to the toes.
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The peroneal artery, [a. peronea] lies deeply along the back part of the leg, close to the fibula : hence its names, peroneal or fibular. Arising from the posterior tibial artery, about an inch below the lower border of the popliteus muscle, it inclines at first obliquely towards the fibula, and then descends nearly perpendicularly along that bone and behind the outer ankle, to reach the side of the os calcis.
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