Branching from the internal iliac artery, the obturator artery runs a course along the pelvic wall. It runs to the upper portion of the obturator foramen, which is an opening for blood vessels and nerves between the pelvis' ischium and pubis bones. The obturator artery, however, exits the pelvic cavity via the obturator canal. As for branches, the blood vessel splits into anterior and posterior designations. Not only does the obturator transit oxygenated blood to its branches, it also serves the region of the pelvis. This artery is not the same as the obturator vein, which begins in the thigh's upper area and flows into the pelvic region. The obturator vein drains off much of the blood delivered by its corresponding artery, but only after the blood has been deoxygenated. The obturator artery may have different courses in some people. If so, this is congenital, as different paths exist from birth. The different ways the artery may be situated largely does not diminish its flowing capacity.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Obturator artery