The deep femoral artery (a. profunda femoris), is the principal nutritious vessel of the thigh; its branches being mainly distributed to that part of the lower limb, whereas the femoral artery supplies the leg and foot. It is a vessel of considerable calibre, being nearly equal in size to the continuation of the femoral after the origin of this great branch (The artery of the lower limb, after emerging from the abdominal cavity, was described bv Murray as the common femoral, and was regarded by him as dividing into two parts, which he named respectively, the superficial, and the deep femoral arteries. These terms are often conveniently used by surgical writers for easy reference to different parts of the vessel).
It usually arises from the outer and back part of the femoral artery, between an inch and two inches below Poupart's ligament. The artery at first inclines outwards in front of the iliacus muscle, but soon changes its course, running downwards and backwards behind the femoral artery. Opposite the junction of the upper with the middle third of the femur, the profunda artery passes behind the long adductor muscle, between it and the short and great adductors; and then inclining outwards towards the linea aspera of the femur, soon divides into its terminal branches, which pass backwards through the great adductor muscle, and ramify in the muscles at the back of the thigh.
The artery lies successively in front of the iliacus and pectineus muscles, and then on the adductor brevis and adductor magnus muscles. It is placed behind the femoral artery, the deep femoral and femoral veins and the long adductor muscle being interposed between the two arteries.
The origin of the deep femoral artery sometimes deviates from its usual position on the parent trunk, being occasionally given off from the inner side, and, but more rarely, from the back part of that vessel.
The height at which this artery arises from the femoral is subject to very great variation. In more than three-fourths of a large number of cases it was found to arise from the femoral at a distance of from one to two inches below the lower border of Poupart's ligament; in a few of the cases, the distance measured less than one inch; much more rarely, the profunda arose opposite to the ligament; and in a single instance above that structure, and, therefore, from the external iliac artery.
On the other hand, the distance between the origin of the artery and Poupart's ligament was sometimes found to exceed two inches ; and, in one instance, the artery arose as low down as four inches from the ligament, but in that case the internal and external circumflex branches did not arise from it.
In addition to a number of small unnamed offsets to the muscles, the deep femoral artery furnishes the branches now to be described.
From Quain's Anatomy.