Arteries, Veins, and Lymph in the Hip and Thigh
The joints and muscles of the hips and thighs require a lot of blood flow, which provides oxygen and nourishment, especially when you’re physically active. Lymph is also drained away by the lymphatic structures. The arteries that provide blood to the hip and the thigh can be grouped by regions.
Arteries in the gluteal and posterior thigh region
Superior gluteal artery: This artery starts from the internal iliac artery. It has a superficial branch that enters the gluteal region through the greater sciatic foramen and a deep branch that runs between the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius muscles. The superficial branch supplies blood to the gluteus maximus muscle, and the deep branch supplies blood to the gluteus minimus and medius muscles.
Inferior gluteal artery: Branching off the internal iliac artery, this artery enters the gluteal region through the sciatic foramen to run along the sciatic nerve. It anastomoses with the superior gluteal artery and several other arteries. It supplies blood to the gluteus maximus, obturator internus, quadratus femoris, and hamstring muscles.
Internal pudendal artery: This artery branches off the internal iliac artery, enters the gluteal region through the sciatic foramen, and enters the perineum via the lesser sciatic foramen. It supplies blood to the external genitalia and parts of the perineum.
Perforating arteries: These arteries branch off the deep femoral artery and provide blood to the hamstring muscles and vastus lateralis.
The following arteries keep blood flowing through the medial thigh area:
Femoral artery: A continuation of the external iliac artery, the femoral artery runs through the femoral triangle and the adductor canal. It then goes on to become the popliteal artery. It supplies blood to anterior and medial structures of the thigh.
Deep femoral artery (profunda femoris artery): This artery branches off the femoral artery below the inguinal ligament and runs underneath the adductor longus. It supplies blood to muscles of the thigh.
Lateral circumflex femoral artery: This artery usually starts from the deep femoral artery (but sometimes arises from the femoral artery) and runs deep to the sartorius and rectus femoris muscles. It supplies blood to the anterior part of the gluteal region.
Medial circumflex femoral artery: Typically arising from the deep femoral artery (but sometimes from the femoral artery), this artery runs between the pectineus and iliopsoas muscles to the gluteal region. It supplies blood to the head and neck of the femur.
Obturator artery: This artery branches off the internal iliac artery and runs to the medial part of the thigh. It supplies blood to the obturator externus, pectineus, adductors, and gracilis. It also supplies blood to the muscles near the ischial tuberosities.
Veins return blood from the hip and thigh to the heart. They accompany most of the arteries and have the same names. The most important veins to know are the great saphenous vein and the femoral vein:
Great saphenous vein: This superficial vein travels in the subcutaneous tissue on the anteromedial aspect of the thigh and leg and empties into the femoral vein.
Femoral vein: This vein enters into the pelvic cavity deep to the inguinal ligament, where it becomes the external iliac vein.
Superficial lymphatic vessels in the thigh follow along with the great saphenous vein and travel up to the superficial inguinal lymph nodes located in the inguinal area. Lymph drains from these nodes into external iliac lymph nodes and the deep inguinal lymph nodes of the pelvis.
Lymph from the gluteal region drains into the gluteal lymph nodes located next to the gluteal veins (tributaries of the pudendal veins) and then into the iliac lymph nodes and the lumbar lymph nodes of the pelvis.