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 ischium and pubis bones, located in the lower part of the pelvis. The obturator artery, however, exits the pelvic cavity via the obturator canal, a small opening in the connective tissue that covers the obturator internus muscle. The obturator canal lies near the obturator foramen.

The obturator artery splits into anterior and posterior branches. Not only does the obturator artery transport 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 depleted of oxygen.

The obturator artery may run different courses in some people. If so, this is congenital, meaning these different paths exist from birth. The different ways the artery may be situated does not greatly diminish its flowing capacity.