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.
This artery is sometimes double: Gooch has cited three examples; Velpeau mentions a fourth, and refers to Casa-mayor, who saw a fifth. In Velpeau's case the supernumerary artery gave off the branches usually given off by the profunda; and its peculiarity seems to consist in its having afterwards preserved sufficient size to descend below the knee. Sir C. Bell found the femoral artery dividing into two equal trunks, which afterwards united to form the popliteal: Mr. Houston has described a similar instance. Another variety consists in a high bifurcation of the vessel. Sandifort relates a case in which the artery divided a little below Poupart's ligament into two vessels, the continuations of which were the posterior tibial and peroneal arteries ; and Portal refers to a case in which it divided high up in the femoral region into two vessels, the continuations of which formed two popliteal arteries.
This artery sometimes arises within the pelvis from the external iliac; this is its regular origin in birds. In the case in which Mr. James tied the aorta, the profunda arose above Poupart's ligament and gave off the epigastric.
This artery may arise after the internal circumflex, or in common with it; or it may arise from the femoral, or be large enough to appear as a branch of bifurcation from the profunda.
This vessel sometimes comes off before the external circumflex; sometimes directly from the femoral, sometimes from the external iliac, or it may arise by a common trunk with the external circumflex.
The principal varieties of this artery are included in those of the femoral. We have only to add that the popliteal artery sometimes divides at one point into three branches; viz.: the anterior and posterior tibial, and fibular. In a remarkable case referred to by Dr. Green, the popliteal artery was a continuation of the sciatic, the femoral having terminated at the knee-joint. In this case the internal iliac artery was much larger than the external. Either the two superior or the two inferior articular branches may arise by a common trunk.
This artery may arise above the popliteus muscle and descend across it. Or when it has arrived in the anterior region of the leg, Pelletan observes that it may descend immediately under the integument and not between the muscles. In some instances it may be expended at the lower part of the leg, and its place on the dorsum of the foot supplied by the anterior peroneal; or the artery may be altogether absent, in which case its place is supplied by perforating branches of the posterior tibial.
This vessel may be deficient, and its place supplied by branches of the fibular, or there may be two in the same limb, as observed by Dr. Green, or it may arise higher or lower than usual.