Terminology of the branches of the lateral circumflex femoral artery: Who is Who?

Alen Palackic, Christoph Skias, Raimund Winter, Martin Hubmer, Alexandros Andrianakis, Georg Feigl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The anterolateral thigh flap and the tensor fasciae latae flap are supplied by the lateral circumflex femoral artery (LCFA). Different branching patterns of the LCFA have been described, leading to confusion, discrepancies and difficulties in clinical and cadaveric study comparisons. The aim of this study was to evaluate the branching patterns of the LCFA in dissected lower limbs and propose a simplified nomenclature. One hundred and two lower limbs fixed with Thiel's method were investigated. Meticulous dissection was performed, and the branching pattern of the arteries was documented by illustration and photography. These were analysed and allocated to the currently existing terminologies regarding the numbers of the branches (Part 1), and these subgroups were evaluated according to the variability of the trunk formations (Part 2). In Part 1, four subgroups could be classified (A, B, C and D). Group A included a total number of three branches (n = 50), Group B included four (n = 41), Group C included five (n = 5) and Group D included only two branches (n = 6). Part 2 showed in total 11 different trunk variations. Group A had four trunk variations: A1 (n = 38), A2 (n = 5), A3 (n = 2) and A4 (n = 6); Group B also had four variations: B1 (n = 16), B2 (n = 18), B3 (n = 3) and B4 (n = 4); Group C displayed two variations: C1 (n = 1) and C2 (n = 4); and in Group D, there was only one variation observed D1 (n = 6). Branching patterns were highly variable and inconsistent in terms of the number of branches and trunk variations, which resulted in different possible and justified interpretations and classifications. A new terminology should be defined cooperatively among anatomists and clinicians that will be useful for everybody. We propose a terminology oriented to the associated muscles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1465-1472
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • ALT flap
  • TFL flap
  • anatomy
  • lateral circumflex femoral artery
  • nomenclature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology
  • Histology
  • Developmental Biology


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