The gluteal artery,[a. glutaea] (iliaca posterior, — Haller),the largest branch of the internal iliac, is distributed to the muscles on the outside of the pelvis.
It inclines downwards towards the upper border of the great sacro-sciatic foramen, beneath which it turns, and escapes from the cavity of the pelvis in the interval between the contiguous borders of the middle gluteal and pyriform muscles. Whilst within the pelvis, it gives off a few small branches to the muscles ; as it turns out of that cavity it sends one larger offset (nutritia magna, — Haller), which enters the substance of the ilium. On reaching the outer surface of the bone, the gluteal artery immediately divides into a superficial and a deep branch. The first or superficial branch, running between the gluteus maximus and medius, sends off in its course many smaller branches, some of which (after piercing the tendinous origin of the great gluteal muscle) approach the side of the sacrum, anastomosing with the posterior branches of the sacral arteries, and supplying the integuments there ; whilst others of considerable size pass outwards between the gluteal muscles, and supply them freely. The second or deep branch, situated as its name implies deeply between the gluteus medius and minimus, runs in an arched direction forwards, and divides into two other branches. One of these (the superior branch) continuing the course of the vessel from which it arises, runs along the upper border of the gluteus minimus beneath the middle gluteal muscle and the tensor of the fascia lata, towards the anterior spine of the ilium, anastomosing with the circumflex iliac and with the ascending branches of the external circumflex arteries, after having freely supplied the muscles between which it passes. The second or inferior branch descends towards the great trochanter, supplies the gluteal muscles, and anastomoses with the external circumflex and the sciatic arteries.