External iliac artery

The external iliac artery is a major blood vessel transporting oxygenated blood out of the pelvic region and into the leg.

This is a paired artery, meaning the body actually possesses two external iliac arteries, one with a "right" designation, and the other with a "left." Each vessel arises from a common iliac artery, which branches off the abdominal aorta. Like its external branch, the common iliac is paired with right and left versions. These correspond with the right and left leg.

Each external iliac artery splits into multiple branches, including the femoral, inferior epigastric, and deep iliac circumflex arteries. Also, each external iliac artery has a venae comitantes relationship with the body's venal system, which means the pulsing of the artery helps to also move blood through the veins.

Close to the artery, there are the similarly named internal iliac veins. These vessels actively drain oxygen-depleted blood away from the pelvic region and transmit it back to the heart and lungs. Once replenished with oxygen in the lungs, the heart pumps this blood back into the arterial system.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: External iliac artery

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