The external iliac artery is the main arterial distribution to the pelvic limb of a cow. Here, I will show you the course and distribution of the bovine external iliac artery with a diagram.
Quick overview: the cow’s external iliac artery arises from the abdominal aorta and continues as the femoral artery at the medial of the thigh. It passes through the limb with a different name and finally terminates as dorsal and palmar proper digital arteries.
So, I suggest memorizing the main course and the name of the external iliac in different regions. Then, you may learn the small branches of the specific part of the external iliac.
What is the external iliac artery in a cow?
The external iliac artery in a cow is the major arterial channel to its pelvic limb. The caudal part of the abdominal aorta divides into –
- Right and left external iliac arteries,
- Right and left internal iliac arteries, and
- Median sacral artery (continuation of the abdominal aorta ventral to sacrum),
The different branches of the external iliac supply the dorsal and plantar surfaces of the cow’s pes. Here, the diagram shows the major branches and courses of the external iliac of the cow.
Cow external iliac artery course and branches
I will focus on how the external iliac artery’s different parts pass through the hindlimb’s different regions. Again, I will also provide the small branches of the external iliac from the particular regions of the pelvic limb.
Let’s see the course and branches of the external iliac artery in a cow –
Origin of the external iliac
It arises from the abdominal aorta ventral to the body of the sixth lumbar vertebra in cows. But, it arises ventral to the fifth or sixth lumbar vertebrae in sheep and goats.
It passes ventrocaudally and parallel to the sublumbar muscle and pubis bone.
External iliac at thigh region
The external iliac continues as the femoral artery at the medial aspect of the cow’s thigh. Now, the femoral artery is accompanied by the saphenous nerve and femoral vein.
The saphenous nerve passes in front of the femoral artery and the femoral vein caudally to the femoral artery. All these structures (artery, nerve, and vein) pass through the muscular canal of the cow’s thigh.
Branches of the femoral artery in cow’s thigh
The main branches of the femoral artery in the cow’s thigh are –
- Deep circumflex iliac artery and
- Deep femoral artery,
The deep femoral artery again divides into pudendoepigastric and medial circumflex arteries. Finally, the pudendoepigastric artery again divides into caudal epigastric and external pudendal in a cow’s thigh.
External iliac in popliteal or stifle joint
The cow’s femoral artery now continues to the popliteal region (stifle joint). It crosses between the two heads of the gastrocnemius muscles of the cows.
The popliteal artery of the cow divides at the variable level of the thigh or leg. Again, you will find different branches from the popliteal artery of the cow. I will mention the small branches along with the main course later.
Suggested article for you: cow stifle joint anatomy (bones and ligaments)
Continuation of cow’s popliteal artery in pes region
The cow’s popliteal artery divides into two main branches –
- Cranial tibial artery: – supply to the gastrocnemius, gluteobiceps, vastus lateralis, soleus, and semimembranosus muscles.
- Caudal tibial artery: – it is short and supplied to the flexor digital profundus and superior muscles.
Then, the cranial tibial artery passes over the tarsus and continues as the dorsal pedal artery. Now, the same artery is termed the dorsal metatarsal artery III at the metatarsal bone.
It continues as the dorsal common digital artery IV in a cow. This dorsal common digital artery anastomoses with the deep palmar arch of the saphenous artery.
Finally, the dorsal common digital artery divides into –
- Dorsal proper digital artery III, and
- Dorsal proper digital artery IV,
Branches of cow’s popliteal artery at stifle joint, leg, and pes
At the popliteal region, the cow’s popliteal artery divides into 4 branches –
- Lateral circumflex artery: again divides into the ascending and descending arteries,
- Saphenous artery (at the middle two-thirds of the cow’s thigh),
- Descending genicular artery, and
- Caudal femoral branch (small and short),
Course and branches of the cow saphenous artery
At the medial aspect of the cow’s tarsus, the saphenous artery divides into –
- Medial plantar: caudo-medial aspect of the pes, and
- Lateral plantar: caudolateral aspect of the cow’s pes,
The lateral plantar branch of the saphenous artery anastomoses with the superficial arch of the dorsal pedal artery.
Now, the medial and lateral plantar arteries continue as the plantar metatarsals II, III, and IV. All these 3 plantar metatarsal arteries continue to plantar common digital arteries II, III, and IV.
Finally, the plantar common digital arteries continue as the plantar proper digital arteries II, III, and IV.
What are the branches of the external iliac artery in cattle?
The branches and course of the external iliac artery in cattle is shown in Table 1 –
|Regions of the pelvic limb
|Course of external iliac in cow
|Branches of external iliac
|Ventral to sixth lumbar vertebra
|Arises from the abdominal aorta
|Cranial to pubis bone
|External iliac pass cauoventrally
|Medial of the thigh
|Continue as the femoral artery
|In femoral canal
|Passes with the saphenous nerve and femoral vein
|Deep circumflex artery
Deep femoral artery
Medial circumflex artery
|At popliteal region
|Continue as popliteal artery
|Lateral circumflex artery
Descending genicular artery
Caudal femoral artery, and
|Leg region of the cow
|Cranial and caudal tibial arteries
|Saphenous artery (caudally)
|At the tarsus region
|Continue as the dorsal pedal artery
|Divides into medial and lateral plantar arteries
|At the metatarsal
|Dorsal metatarsal artery III and
Dorsal common digital artery III
|Planrar metatarsal II, III, IV
Plantar common digital II, III, and IV
|Digits of the cow
|Dorsal proper digital arteries III, IV
|Plantar proper digital arteries II, III, and IV
So, the course and branches of the external iliac artery of the cow are described in this guide. You might learn the course according to the different segments of the cow’s pelvic limb.
The cow’s external iliac arises from the abdominal aorta and terminates as the dorsal and plantar proper digital arteries. Now, you may compare the courses and branches of the external arteries of various animals.