Adductor canal

Last revised by Arlene Campos on 26 Mar 2024

The adductor canal (also known as Hunter's canal or the subsartorial canal) is a muscular tunnel in the anterior compartment of the thigh. It serves to transmit several important neurovascular structures from the femoral triangle through the thigh into the popliteal fossa.

The adductor canal is located in the medial aspect of the anterior compartment of the thigh and is V-shaped on the axial section. It commences at the apex of the femoral triangle and extends inferiorly to the distal attachment of the adductor longus 7.

Several sources ref state incorrectly state the distal extent of the canal to be the adductor hiatus. While the femoral neurovascular structures pass through the adductor hiatus to enter the popliteal fossa, other structures outlined below continue to its inferior extent ref.

  • femoral artery is always between the femoral vein and saphenous nerve

  • femoral vein spirals from medial to the artery in the femoral triangle to posterior to the artery in the adductor canal

  • femoral artery gives descending genicular artery as it leaves the adductor hiatus 

The adductor canal was discovered by renowned Scottish surgeon John Hunter (1728-1793), as part of his pioneering work in treating popliteal aneurysms by ligating the femoral artery (standard treatment in the 18th century was amputation). His older brother was William Hunter (1718-1783), also a well-known anatomist and obstetrician 4-6

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