What is a Femoral Vessel?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 06 May 2020
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A femoral vessel refers to a primary blood vessel in the lower limbs. The two main types of femoral vessels are femoral arteries and femoral veins. Portions of both vessels are protected by a tough fibrous substance named the femoral sheath. These structures, along with the femoral nerve and the lymph node-containing femoral canal, make up the contents of the femoral triangle.

The first type of femoral vessel, the femoral vein, carries blood from the legs to the heart. It begins near the hip at a tissue band known as the inguinal ligament and runs close to the knee at a tunnel called the abductor canal. This vein is connected to the popliteal vein around the kneecap and to the external iliac vein around the pelvis area. Two other veins located in the leg also drain into the femoral vein: the profunda femoris vein and the great saphenous vein. Since the vein runs deep in the body, it is considered a deep vein as opposed to a superficial vein.

The femoral artery, on the other hand, is a main supplier of blood to the legs. This blood vessel is located in roughly the same thigh area as the femoral vein. Like its counterpart vein, the femoral artery is joined to a popliteal artery on the lower end and an external iliac artery on the upper end of the leg. The main trunk of this artery consists of three parts: a common femoral artery branches into a deep femoral artery and a superficial femoral artery, with the former pumping blood to the thigh and the latter supplying blood for the lower leg and foot. Various branches of the main artery help with this blood supply.

Since the femoral artery is close to the skin, or superficial, physicians may use the femoral vessel for some medical interventions. In particular, the artery may be used to insert catheters into the body. A catheter is a thin tube that may either drain bodily fluids or administer liquid or gaseous medical treatments. One consequence of the femoral artery's proximity to the skin is its frequent misuse by drug users who take needle injections.

Other serious afflictions can impact a femoral vessel as well. For example, peripheral artery disease often affects lower limb blood vessels. The condition results when non-heart or non-brain arteries become obstructed or blocked by plaque buildup, infection, or a mass. A similar disorder called deep vein thrombosis can attack the femoral vein. Symptoms of these ailments feature any abnormalities associated with the leg, including pain, swelling, discoloration, numbness, weakness, or cramping.

Each femoral vessel is a main source of blood flow in the human body. Therefore, any abnormal issues associated with these vessels deserve prompt medical attention. Cases of deep vein thrombosis may even create a potentially life-threatening lung obstruction known as a pulmonary embolism.

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