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The femoral artery gives off the following branches. Some, small and superficial, which are distributed to the integument and glands of the groin, or ramify on the lower part of the abdomen, viz., the external pudic (superior and inferior), the superficial epigastric, and the superficial circumflex iliac ; the great nutrient artery of the muscles of the thigh, named the deep femoral; several small muscular branches; and lastly, the anastomotic artery, which descends on the inner side of the knee-joint.
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The vessel which supplies the lower extremity forms a continuous trunk from the point of division of the common iliac artery down to the lower border of the popliteus muscle, where it divides into the anterior and posterior tibial arteries ; but though thus continued as a single trunk different parts of the vessel have received different names, taken from the anatomical regions through which they pass. Whilst within the pelvis, it is named iliac; in the upper two-thirds of the thigh, femoral ; and thence to its termination, popliteal. These divisions, however, are artificial, and are intended merely to facilitate reference to the vessel in different situations.
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The circumflex iliac artery [Latin : circumflexa ilii], smaller than the preceding vessel, arises from the outer side of the iliac artery near Poupart's ligament, and is directed outwards behind that structure to the anterior superior spine of the ilium.
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The external iliac artery admits of being tied in a surgical operation at any part except near its upper and lower end ; the near neighbourhood of the upper end being excepted on account of the circulation through the internal iliac, and the lower end on account of the common position of the branches (epigastric and circumflex iliac). Occasional deductions from this statement occur in consequence of a branch or branches taking origin near or at the middle of the artery; and as the operator may see such a branch he will avoid placing a ligature very near it.
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