Inferior gluteal artery

Last revised by Arlene Campos on 5 Mar 2024

The inferior gluteal artery is a branch of the anterior division of the internal iliac artery. It originates in the pelvis and supplies the gluteal region and thigh.

  • origin: anterior division of the internal iliac artery

  • location: pelvis, gluteal region, back of thigh

  • supply: buttock and thigh

  • main branches

The inferior gluteal artery originates as a branch of the anterior division of the internal iliac artery. It approaches the greater sciatic foramen by passing back through the parietal pelvic fascia and between the S1-S2 or S2-S3 nerve roots. It then exits the pelvis through the foramen, below the piriformis muscle and above the superior gemellus. It travels inferiorly, medial to the sciatic nerve and underneath the gluteus maximus 6.

  • muscular branches to the piriformis, gluteus maximus and obturator internus and the superior hamstrings

  • companion artery to the sciatic nerve

    • branch which is a remnant of the embryonic axial artery of the limb

    • supplies the sciatic nerve

    • developmentally this artery is the major supplier to the posterior compartment of the thigh, and may sometimes persist as a large vessel

  • trochanteric anastomoses

  • cruciate anastomoses: inferior gluteal artery provides a contribution to the cruciate anastomosis of the upper thigh, along with the lateral and medial circumflex artery, the anastomotic branch of the posterior branch of the obturator artery and the first perforating artery of the profunda femoris

The artery terminates at the muscles it supplies and continues to contribute to trochanteric and cruciate anastomoses.

Its muscular supply includes the piriformis muscle, obturator internus, gluteus maximus and the superior hamstrings. It supplies the head of the femur and upper thigh and has a dedicated branch, which supplies the sciatic nerve.

The inferior gluteal artery and the internal pudendal artery may arise from a common stem from the anterior division of the internal iliac artery.

An inferior gluteal artery perforator flap may occasionally be used in breast reconstruction.

Pseudoaneurysms may form post trauma or post procedure (e.g. transgluteal pelvic abscess drainage). 

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