Collateral artery pathways of the femoral and popliteal artery

Rombout R. Kruse, Denise E. Doomernik, Kasper V. Maltha, Jan G.M. Kooloos, Tamas L. Kozicz, Michel M.P.J. Reijnen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background The role of collateral artery circulation in the lower limb is under debate but clinically relevant, particularly when using covered stents for occlusive disease. Covered stents seem to outperform nitinol stents in extensive disease, but collaterals could be essential in case of acute thrombosis. In the present study, we describe the collateral pathways of the deep and superficial femoral artery (DFA, SFA) and the popliteal artery (PA), observed in human cadavers. Methods Ten fresh frozen cadaver legs were selected. The SFA and DFA were separately cannulated and injected with a different colored latex mixture simultaneously. After curing of the latex, the circulation was dissected thus visualizing the main arteries and their collateral vessels. The process was photographed and recorded, and collateral pathways were analyzed using a standardized vessel segmentation. The upper leg was divided in three regions, that is, the femoral triangle (F), the adductor canal (H), and the popliteal fossa (P) that, in turn, were split in three segments (1, 2, and 3, from proximal to distal). Results Overall, 113 collateral vessels were found; 69 originated from the DFA, 34 from the SFA, and 10 from the PA. The majority of collaterals originating from the DFA terminated in the SFA (57%). Fifty-six of 113 collaterals (50%) ended in either the distal adductor channel (H3) or the proximal PA (P1). Another 28 collateral arteries (25%) had their origin in this segment (H3, P1) and mostly connected to the P2 and P3 segments. Forty-three collaterals of the DFA and H3 segment had a direct or indirect connection to below the knee muscles. Conclusions The majority of collaterals originate from the DFA, and the greater part of all collaterals has a connection with the H3-P1 segment. This observation may have clinical implications in the planning of endovascular procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadaver
  • Collateral artery
  • Deep femoral artery
  • Popliteal artery
  • Postmortal
  • Superficial femoral artery


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