The popliteal artery

• Course: the femoral artery continues as the popliteal artery as it passes through the hiatus in adductor magnus to enter the popliteal space. From above, it descends on the posterior surface of the femur, the capsule of the knee joint and then on the fascia overlying popliteus to pass under the fibrous arch of soleus where it bifurcates into anterior and posterior tibial arteries. In the fossa it is the deepest structure, rendering it difficult to feel its pulsations. The popliteal vein crosses the artery superficially and the tibial nerve crosses from lateral to medial over the vein. The peroneal branch of the posterior tibial may arise early to form the popliteal trifurcation.

• Branches: muscular, sural and five genicular arteries are given off. The last form a rich anastomosis around the knee.

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