The femoral artery and vein enter the femoral triangle from beneath the inguinal ligament within a fascial tube termed the femoral sheath. This is derived from the extraperitoneal intra-abdominal fascia, its anterior wall arising from the transversalis fascia and its posterior wall from the fascia covering the iliacus.
The medial part of the femoral sheath contains a small, almost vertically placed gap, the femoral canal, which is about 0.5 in (12 mm) in length and which just admits the tip of the little finger. The greater width of the female pelvis means the canal is somewhat larger in the female and femoral herniae are, consequently, commoner in this sex. The boundaries of the femoral canal are:
• anteriorly—the inguinal ligament;
• medially—the sharp free edge of the pectineal part of the inguinal ligament, termed the lacunar ligament (Gimbernat's ligament);
• posteriorly — the pectineal ligament (of Astley Cooper), which is the thickened periosteum along the pectineal border of the superior pubic ramus and which continues medially with the pectineal part of the inguinal ligament.
The canal contains a plug of fat and a constant lymph node—the node of the femoral canal or Cloquet's gland.
The canal has two functions: first, as a dead space for expansion of the distended femoral vein and, second, as a lymphatic pathway from the lower limb to the external iliac nodes.
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