Palpable Pulses

Palpating for Posterior Tibial Artery behind medial malleolus

The dorsalis pedis artery and the posterior tibial artery are two palpable pedal pulses that examiners often check during a vascular examination of the foot. The dorsalis pedis artery, a branch of the anterior tibial artery, can be palpated within 1.0 to 1.5 cm of the navicular bone. Another anatomy landmark that the examiner can use is the extensor hallucis longus tendon. The dorsalis pedis can be found if the examiner palpates lateral to the course of the extensor hallucis longus tendon. The posterior tibial artery, a branch of the popliteal artery, can be palpated in the area between the medial malleolus and the Achilles tendon. Absence of one or both of these pedal pulses are signs of vascular disease.

Mowlavi A, Whiteman J, Wilhelmi BJ, et al. Dorsalis pedis arterial pulse: palpation using a bony landmark. Postgraduate Medical Journal 2002;78:746-747.