Superior gluteal artery

Last revised by Mostafa Elfeky on 9 Dec 2022

The superior gluteal artery is the largest branch of the internal iliac artery and supplies structures within the pelvis and gluteal region.

  • origin: from the posterior division of the internal iliac artery
  • location: originates from pelvis and enters the gluteal region
  • supply: cutaneous and muscular to gluteal region, contributes to anastomoses around the hip and anterior superior iliac spine
  • main branches: superficial and deep branches (the deep branch has upper and lower components)

The superior gluteal artery originates as a branch from the posterior division of the internal iliac artery. It advances posteriorly to pierce the pelvic fascia between the lumbosacral trunk and the first sacral nerve root (S1). It exits the pelvis via the greater sciatic foramen above the piriformis and immediately divides into superficial and deep branches upon entry to the gluteal region. 

The superior gluteal vessel terminates at gluteal skin. It otherwise contributes to two anastomoses at the anterior superior iliac spine and the hip.

The superficial branch penetrates the gluteus maximus muscle, supplies it, and also the overlying skin over the muscle’s proximal attachment.

The deep branch travels between gluteus minimus and gluteus medius muscle and supplies those muscles as well as tensor fascia lata. It then divides into upper and lower branches:

Within the pelvis, the artery supplies the piriformis, obturator internus, and the ilium (nutrient artery). In the gluteal region, the superior gluteal artery supplies the gluteus maximus and overlying skin, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, tensor fascia lata. It contributes to anastomoses at the anterior superior iliac spine and the hip joint.

The superior gluteal artery may arise directly from the internal iliac artery or from the internal pudendal artery.

Superior gluteal artery stenosis occasionally occurs and can cause buttock claudication.

The superior gluteal artery can be injured during pelvic trauma. In rare instances, it may form a pseudoaneurysm.

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