written by: nanjowe•edited by: Emma Lloyd•updated: 3/31/2010
Where is your femoral artery located and what will happen if it is severed?
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The Importance of Arteries
The impact of a severed femoral artery is best understood by learning about role of the femoral artery in the body. Arteries are the main vessels that carry blood from the heart to all parts of the body. They are the first step in the important exchange of nutrients and oxygen that occurs between the body’s functioning parts and the blood.The femoral artery is found in lower extremities. It is the artery than runs parallel to the femur or thigh bone.
Uses of the Femoral Artery
When an arterial line is needed the physician may use the femoral line. This is done monitor blood pressure in unstable patients; it can also be used to make blood gas measurements. The femoral artery is commonly used if other arterial lines are limited.
Diseases of the Femoral Artery
Arteries are normally smooth on the inside, but when fat is deposited on the walls of the femoral artery, atherosclerosis occurs. This leads to a narrowing of the artery reducing blood flow to the lower extremities. This condition is referred to as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
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Where is your Femoral Artery Located?
There are two ways that can be used to determine the the location of the femoral artery.
Tracing blood flow to the femoral artery. Arteries originate from the aorta which ascends from the heart's posterior. Here the aorta is referred to as the ascending aorta. The coronary arteries branch off the aorta during this phase. At the top of the aortic arch, there are the branches of the carotid vessel which supplies the brain, and the subclavian arteries which provide blood for the rest of the upper extremities.
Along the way to the lower extremities the aorta is referred to as the abdominal aorta. Here branches off the main aorta vasculate several arteries to the digestive tract, the kidneys, spinal cord and other lower torso systems and organs. After these branches the artery divides into two. These two arterial branches are known as the iliac arteries; each iliac artery supplying each limb.
Once the iliac artery enters the femoral triangle it becomes the femoral artery. The femoral triangle is the name given to the region inside the thigh. It is an area where different muscles and ligament cross creating a triangular space. In this triangular space the femoral artery, vein and nerve are found. The main femoral (common femoral) artery then splits into two; profunda femoris and superficial femoral artery, one supplying the inner muscles and the other the outer.
Determining the physical location of the femoral artery. Start by looking at the region of the top of the inner thigh. At this point the artery passes fairly close to the surface. Here the femoral artery is palpitable (can be felt). The exact spot can be determined by drawing an imaginary line from the groin up to the hip. The femoral artery can be palpitated two-thirds of the way up the leg.
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What Happens when the Femoral Artery is Severed?
The human heart pumps on average 1.3 gallons of blood per minute. Only about 5 percent of that blood goes to the top extremities. The rest is pumped to lower portions of the body. As a result the pressure and volume of blood is higher in the lower extremeties. A severed or damaged femoral artery can lose blood quickly. The result can be fatal if first aid is not administered quickly.