This section is from the book "Anatomy Of The Arteries Of The Human Body", by John Hatch Power. Also available from Amazon: Anatomy of the Arteries of the Human Body, with the Descriptive Anatomy of the Heart.
The usual circumstances requiring ligature of the femoral artery are wounds of that vessel, or aneurism in the popliteal region. Mr. Hunter was the first who tied the femoral artery for popliteal aneurism. This operations was performed in the year 1785. His first incision was made through the integuments of the anterior and inner part of the thigh, a little below its middle, so as to cross somewhat obliquely the internal margin of the sartorius muscle : the muscle being turned outwards, the fascia covering the artery was exposed and divided, so as to bring the femoral vessels lying within the Hunterian canal into view. The artery having been disengaged from its connections, a double ligature was passed under it, and then separated, so as to form two distinct ligatures, with a portion of the vessel lying between them: two additional ligatures were applied at certain distances from the two former, making four in all. This was done with a view to secure adhesion, by compressing a larger extent of the vessel. On the fifteenth day, some of the ligatures came away. Soon after, the patient left the hospital with some open abscesses; and six months after, more of the ligatures came away, and the patient perfectly recovered. In an earlier part of the same year, Dessault had tied the popliteal artery for popliteal aneurism; but Hunter's merit consisted in having tied the artery at a distance from the diseased part. It is scarcely necessary to inform the advanced student that the number of ligatures employed by Mr. Hunter, and the extent of the artery detached from its connections, were calculated to produce most dangerous consequences, such as abscesses and secondary hemorrhage. In his second operation he committed another error in dressing the wound from the bottom; but it is proper to add that he gradually corrected these errors, and in his subsequent practice used only a single ligature, and endeavored to unite the wound as quickly as possible.