Clinical anatomy of the popliteal blood vessels

Leanne Cross, John Hall, Thomas R. Howdieshell, Gene L. Colborn, Thomas F. Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The surgical management of venous injuries in the popliteal fossa is a contested issue. The basic options are ligation or repair. Most anatomy textbooks briefly describe a single popliteal vein, and the literature contains few references on venous patterns in this region. Although the primary objective of this study was to analyze venous variability in 52 dissected cadaveric popliteal fossae and 63 venograms, data were also collected on the popliteal artery. Nine groups (A-I) were designated regarding the manner of formation of the popliteal vein. These groupings were based primarily on differences in the union of the anterior tibial, posterior tibial, and fibular (peroneal) veins to form medial and lateral (popliteal) veins, and whether these two veins fused to form a singular popliteal vein proximal or distal to the transverse plane at the level of the distal edge of the femoral condyles (FC). In the majority of the dissections and venograms, multiple veins crossed the FC, and the medial vein was larger in diameter than the lateral vein. Two patterns of popliteal artery termination were observed based on differences in the site of origin of the fibular artery. The results were compared with anatomy and vascular surgery textbook descriptions and sparse literature reports on vascular variations in the popliteal fossa. It is hoped that these data will benefit surgeons performing procedures in this region. (C) 2000 Wiley-liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-353
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Dissection
  • Human anatomy
  • Popliteal artery
  • Popliteal vein
  • Venogram
  • Venous trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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