Internal iliac artery

The internal iliac artery and its branchesAnatomical features of the internal iliac artery and its major branches together with blood supply areas
~ 4 min

The arteries of the systemic circulation serve as a transport link for blood that delivers oxygen and nutrients to all organs and tissues.

The systemic circulation begins from the left ventricle and ends in the right atrium. The largest vessel in our body and the first vessel of systemic circulation is the aorta.

Aorta (aorta)
Aorta (aorta)
Aorta (aorta)
Aorta (aorta)

The aorta is an unpaired vessel giving rise to numerous branches going to all corners of our body, in other words, all the arteries of the systemic circulation originate from it. It is divided into:

  • The ascending aorta (pars ascendens aortae)
  • Ascending aorta (pars ascendens aortae)
    Ascending aorta (pars ascendens aortae)
    Ascending aorta (pars ascendens aortae)
    Ascending aorta (pars ascendens aortae)
  • The arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
  • Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
    Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
    Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
    Arch of the aorta (arcus aortae)
  • The descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)
  • Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)
    Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)
    Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)
    Descending aorta (pars descendens aortae)

It ends with bifurcation and is divided into two common iliac arteries.

Common iliac artery (arteria iliaca communis dextra)
Common iliac artery (arteria iliaca communis dextra)
Common iliac artery (arteria iliaca communis sinistra)
Common iliac artery (arteria iliaca communis sinistra)
Aortic bifurcation (bifurcatio aortae)
Aortic bifurcation (bifurcatio aortae)

The common iliac artery (a. iliaca communis) is a paired vessel that arises from the aortic bifurcation and passes in the inferior direction and laterally towards the lesser pelvis. At the level of the sacro-iliac joint, it divides into two large branches called the internal and external iliac arteries.

The internal iliac artery (a. iliaca interna) is a branch of the common iliac artery. It supplies the walls and organs of the pelvis with blood. It goes in the inferior direction to the lesser pelvis area along the medial side of the psoas major muscle. At the superior border of the greater sciatic foramen, the artery gives off two groups of branches: parietal and visceral.

Internal iliac artery (a. iliaca interna)
Internal iliac artery (a. iliaca interna)
Internal iliac artery (a. iliaca interna)
Internal iliac artery (a. iliaca interna)
Internal iliac artery (a. iliaca interna)
Internal iliac artery (a. iliaca interna)

The iliolumbar artery (a. iliolumbalis) goes posteriorly and laterally behind the psoas major muscle, and gives off 2 branches:

Iliolumbar artery (a. iliolumbalis)
Iliolumbar artery (a. iliolumbalis)
  • The iliacus branch (r. iliacus) supplies the muscle of the same name and the ilium with blood;
  • Iliacus branch (r. iliacus)
    Iliacus branch (r. iliacus)
  • The lumbar branch (r. lumbalis) goes to the psoas major muscle and the quadratus lumborum muscle and supplies them with blood. The spinal branch (r. spinalis) arises from the lumbar branch and goes to the sacral canal, where it supplies the roots of the spinal nerves and the membranes of the spinal cord with blood.
  • Lumbar branch (r. lumbalis)
    Lumbar branch (r. lumbalis)

The lateral sacral arteries (aa. sacrales laterales) arise next to the iliolumbar artery. They go down the lateral part of the pelvic surface of the sacrum and give off the spinal branches (rr. spinales).These branches go through the anterior sacral foramina to the membranes of the spinal cord and the roots of the spinal nerves.

Lateral sacral arteries (aa. sacrales laterales)
Lateral sacral arteries (aa. sacrales laterales)

They supply the sacrum, ligaments of the sacrum and coccyx, the membranes of the spinal cord, the levator ani muscle, the piriformis muscle and the deep muscles of the back with blood.

Spinal branches (rr. spinales)
Spinal branches (rr. spinales)

The obturator artery (a. obturatoria) goes in the anterior direction along the lateral wall of the lesser pelvis. It gives off a number of branches along its way.

Obturator artery (a. obturatoria)
Obturator artery (a. obturatoria)
Obturator artery (a. obturatoria)
Obturator artery (a. obturatoria)
  • The first of them is the pubic branch (r. pubicus), which anastomoses with the obturator branch of the inferior epigastric artery at the medial semicircle of the deep ring of the femoral canal.
    Pubic branch (r. pubicus)
    Pubic branch (r. pubicus)

    From the pelvic cavity, the obturator artery passes to the thigh through the obturator canal, where it divides into anterior and posterior branches.

  • The anterior branch (r. anterior) supplies the skin of the external genitalia, the obturator externus and adductor muscles of the thigh with blood.
  • Anterior branch (r. anterior)
    Anterior branch (r. anterior)
  • The posterior branch (r. posterior) supplies the obturator externus muscle with blood.
  • Posterior branch (r. posterior)
    Posterior branch (r. posterior)
  • The acetabular branch (r. acetabularis) arises from the posterior branch of the obturator artery and goes to the hip joint. It supplies the walls of the acetabulum and the head of the femur with blood. The branch passes to the head of the femur through the thickness of its ligament.
  • Acetabular branch (r. acetabularis)
    Acetabular branch (r. acetabularis)

The obturator artery supplies blood to the pubic symphysis, ilium bone, head of the femur, hip joint and a number of muscles, including the iliopsoas, quadratus femoris muscle, levator ani muscle, internal and external obturator muscles, adductor muscles of the thigh, pectineus and gracilis muscles.

The inferior gluteal artery (a. glutea inferior) passes anteriorly and exits the pelvic cavity through an infrapiriform foramen.

Inferior gluteal artery (a. glutea inferior)
Inferior gluteal artery (a. glutea inferior)
Inferior gluteal artery (a. glutea inferior)
Inferior gluteal artery (a. glutea inferior)
  • On its way, it gives off the artery to the sciatic nerve (a. comitans nervi ischiadici), which supplies the sciatic nerve with blood.

The inferior gluteal artery supplies the hip joint, skin of the gluteal region, and a number of muscles: the gluteus maximus muscle, piriformis muscle, adductor magnus muscle of the thigh, obturator internus and externus muscles, quadratus femoris muscle, superior and inferior gemellus muscles, semitendinosus muscle, semimembranous muscle, and the long head of the biceps femoris.

Artery to the sciatic nerve (a. comitans nervi ischiadici)
Artery to the sciatic nerve (a. comitans nervi ischiadici)

The superior gluteal artery (a. glutea superior) goes laterally to the suprapiriform foramen and passes through it into the gluteal region, where it is divided into 2 branches:

Superior gluteal artery (a. glutea superior)
Superior gluteal artery (a. glutea superior)
Superior gluteal artery (a. glutea superior)
Superior gluteal artery (a. glutea superior)
  • The superficial branch (r. superficialis) supplies the skin of the gluteal region, as well as the gluteus minimus and medius muscles with blood;
  • Superficial branch (r. superficialis)
    Superficial branch (r. superficialis)
  • The deep branch (r. profundus) is in turn divided into two branches.
  • Deep branch (r. profundus)
    Deep branch (r. profundus)
  • The superior branch (r. superior) supplies the gluteus medius and minimus muscles with blood.
  • Superior branch (r. superior)
    Superior branch (r. superior)
    Superior branch (r. superior)
    Superior branch (r. superior)
  • The inferior branch (r. inferior) supplies the gluteus medius and minimus muscles, as well as the hip joint with blood.
  • Inferior branch (r. inferior)
    Inferior branch (r. inferior)
    Inferior branch (r. inferior)
    Inferior branch (r. inferior)

Visceral branches.

The umbilical artery (a. umbilicalis) arises from the anterior semicircle of the internal iliac artery, goes in the anterior and superior direction, where it lies on the posterior surface of the anterior wall of the abdomen and rises to the umbilicus under the peritoneum. In the fetus, this artery functions throughout its entire length. After birth, most of the umbilical artery becomes desolate and turns into an umbilical ligament. The initial part of the umbilical artery continues to function, the artery of the ductus deferens and the superior vesical arteries arise from it.

Umbilical artery (a. umbilicalis)
Umbilical artery (a. umbilicalis)
Umbilical artery (a. umbilicalis)
Umbilical artery (a. umbilicalis)
  • The artery of the ductus deferens (a. ductus deferentis) accompanies this duct and supplies its walls with blood.
  • Artery of the ductus deferens (a. ductus deferentis)
    Artery of the ductus deferens (a. ductus deferentis)
  • The superior vesical arteries (aa. vesicales superiores) in the amount of 2 or 3 pass to the body of the urinary bladder, and give off the ureteral branches (rr. ureterici) near its walls to the terminal part of the ureter.
  • Superior vesical arteries (aa. vesicales superiores)
    Superior vesical arteries (aa. vesicales superiores)
    Superior vesical arteries (aa. vesicales superiores)
    Superior vesical arteries (aa. vesicales superiores)

The uterine artery (a. uterina) also arises from the anterior semicircle of the internal iliac artery, goes down into the pelvic cavity, to the uterus (between two sheaths of the broad ligament of the uterus). On its course, the artery crosses the ureter. Along the way, the uterine artery gives off the vaginal, ovarian, and tubal branches.

Uterine artery (a. uterina)
Uterine artery (a. uterina)
  • Vaginal branches (rr. vaginales) go in the inferior direction to the lateral wall of the vagina.
  • Vaginal branches (rr. vaginales)
    Vaginal branches (rr. vaginales)
  • The ovarian branch (r. ovaricus) goes to the ovary in the thickness of its mesentery, where it anastomoses with the branches of the ovarian artery.
  • Ovarian branch (r. ovaricus)
    Ovarian branch (r. ovaricus)
  • The tubal branch (r. tubarius) supplies the uterine tube with blood.
  • Tubal branch (r. tubarius)
    Tubal branch (r. tubarius)

The middle rectal artery (a. rectalis media) arises from the internal iliac artery, goes to the lateral wall of the rectal ampulla, supplies its middle and inferior parts, as well as adjacent seminal vesicles, prostate gland (in men), ureter, vagina (in women), and the levator ani muscle with blood.

Middle rectal artery (a. rectalis media)
Middle rectal artery (a. rectalis media)
Middle rectal artery (a. rectalis media)
Middle rectal artery (a. rectalis media)

The internal pudendal artery (a. pudenda interna) is the terminal branch of the internal iliac artery. It exits the pelvic cavity through the infrapiriform foramen (together with the inferior gluteal artery), circumflexes the ischial spine and through the lesser sciatic foramen enters the pelvic cavity again into the ischiorectal fossa. In this fossa, the inferior rectal artery (a. rectalis inferior), which gives a number of branches, arise from the internal pedundal artery.

Internal pudendal artery (a. pudenda interna)
Internal pudendal artery (a. pudenda interna)
Internal pudendal artery (a. pudenda interna)
Internal pudendal artery (a. pudenda interna)
Internal pudendal artery (a. pudenda interna)
Internal pudendal artery (a. pudenda interna)
Inferior rectal artery (a. rectalis inferior)
Inferior rectal artery (a. rectalis inferior)
  • These include the perineal artery (a. perinealis)
  • Perineal artery (a. perinealis)
    Perineal artery (a. perinealis)
  • The urethral artery (a. urethralis)
  • Urethral artery (a. urethralis)
    Urethral artery (a. urethralis)
  • the artery of the bulb of the penis in men (a. bulbi penis)
  • Artery of the bulb of the penis in men (a. bulbi penis)
    Artery of the bulb of the penis in men (a. bulbi penis)
  • the artery of the bulb of the vestibule of the vagina in women (a. bulbi vestibuli),
  • the deep artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. profunda penis – clitoridis)
  • Deep artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. profunda penis – clitoridis)
    Deep artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. profunda penis - clitoridis)
  • the dorsal artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. dorsalis penis – clitoridis)
  • Dorsal artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. dorsalis penis – clitoridis)
    Dorsal artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. dorsalis penis - clitoridis)
    Dorsal artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. dorsalis penis – clitoridis)
    Dorsal artery of the penis (clitoris) (a. dorsalis penis - clitoridis)

All these arteries go to the corresponding organs and supply them with blood (the inferior part of the rectum, urethra, skin and muscles of the perineum, vagina in women, bulbourethral glands in men, external genitalia, and obturator internus muscle).

Dictionary

The internal iliac artery and its branches

Aorta
aorta
Common iliac artery
a. iliaaca communis
Internal iliac artery
a. iliaca interna
Iliolumbar artery
a. iliolumbaris
Iliacus branch
r. iliacus
Lumbar branch
r. lumbalis
Spinal branches
r. spinalis
Lateral sacral arteries
aa. sacrales laterales
Obturator artery
a. obturatoria
Pubic branch
r. pubicus
Anterior branch
r. anterior
Posterior branch
r. posterior
Acetabular branch
r. acetabularis
Inferior gluteal artery
a. glutea inferior
Artery to the sciatic nerve
a. comitans nervi ischiadici
Superior gluteal artery
a. glutea superior
Deep branch
r. profundus
Superior and inferior branches
rr. superior
et inferior
Umbilical artery
a. umbilicalis
Artery of the ductus
deferens
a. ductus
deferentis
Superior vesical arteries
aa. vesicales superiores
Ureteric branches
rr. ureterici
Uterine artery
a. uterina
Vaginal branches
rr. vaginales
Ovarian branch
r. ovaricus
Tubal branch
r. tubarius
Middle rectal artery
a. rectalis media
Internal pudendal artery
a. pudenda interna
Inferior rectal artery
a. rectalis inferior
Perineal artery
a. perinealis
Urethral artery
a. urethralis
Artery of the bulb
of the penis
a. bulbi
penis
Artery of the bulb of the vestibule of the vagina
a. bulbi
vestibuli
Deep artery of the penis
a. profunda penis
Dorsal artery of the penis
a. dorsalis penis
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