Where is the Popliteal Artery ?
The popliteal artery is a branched artery that directly supplies blood to the knee joint and surrounding muscles as well as to the calf and lower thigh muscles. It runs parallel to the popliteal vein and its branches supply blood to the feet.
The popliteal artery extends from the femoral artery of the upper leg. It begins where the femoral artery comes into contact with the femur bone about a hands length about the knee. The artery curves to the back of the knee deep in the popliteal fossa where it is covered by a thick fascia. This thick covering makes it difficult to palpate the artery and detect a pulse at the back of the knee. The popliteal artery continues down the lower leg and divides into the anterior and posterior tibial arteries about a hands length below the knee.
What Causes an Aneurysm ?
Popliteal artery aneurysms are the most common artery aneurysms in the peripheral body (the head and limbs), making up almost 85% of all peripheral aneurysms. The average age of individuals suffering from this type of aneurysm is 65 years and over 95% are males. Up to 40% of patients with PAAs also have abdominal artery aneurysms and 50% of cases are bilateral (affecting both legs).
The leading cause of a popliteal artery aneurysm is atherosclerosis (hardening of the walls of the artery); hence patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and other high risk factors are more likely to suffer from a PAA. Other causes may include genetic defects, inflammation and injury.
Test and Treatments for Aneurysms, Blood Clots
A physical examination and an ultrasound is required to diagnose a PAA. Treatment depends on the size of the aneurysm and whether a clot is present. Patients may require surgery, in which the aneurysm is removed and the artery is reconnected. In less severe cases, blood thinning medications may help to prevent symptoms. Physiotherapy, exercise, weight management, changes in nutrition and wearing compression hosiery or stockings may also help to improve blood circulation.
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