The arteries to the knee joint and surrounding structures are supplied by the large femoral and popliteal arteries. The femoral artery enters the lower limb by passing deep to the inguinal ligament and into the femoral triangle. The artery then sends off the large profunda femoris branch which dives deep into the thigh. The femoral artery continues more superficially giving off more muscular branches to the quadriceps muscle. The profunda femoris also gives off muscular branches and contributes to the circulation around the knee joint.
The femoral artery proceeds through the adductor hiatus in the distal thigh (where it becomes the popliteal artery). Before entering the adductor canal the femoral artery gives rise to the descending genicular artery which contributes to the anastomosis and blood supply around the knee.
As the femoral artery leaves the adductor canal it enters the popliteal space and becomes known as the popliteal artery. It descends in the popliteal space and is separated from the intercondylar fossa of the femur by fat, the posterior oblique ligament and the popliteus fascia distal to the joint line from above downwards. The popliteal artery is the deepest of the vascular structures in the popliteal fossa lying deep to the popliteal vein and the tibial nerve, the latter of which is most superficial. During its course through the popliteal fossa, it gives multiple branches that supply the knee joint and musculature. Opposite the lower border of the popliteus muscle the popliteal artery ends by dividing into the anterior tibia and posterior tibial artery.
The blood vessels around the knee form an extensive anastomosis linking the femoral artery above with the popliteal and tibial arteries below. During its course, the popliteal artery gives off the medial and lateral superior genicular artery, the middle genicular artery, the sural artery and the lateral inferior and medial inferior genicular arteries. All these vessels together supply the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone of the knee joint as well as the synovial membrane lining the knee joint and capsular structures.
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