Dorsal Pedal Pulse Palpation

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About this medical skill
Parent skills Circulatory Motor Sensory Testing (CMS)
Pulse Points and Palpation
Trauma Patient Assessment
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Dorsal Pedal Pulse

When palpating the dorsal pedal pulse, you are feeling for the dorsalis pedis artery that comes close to the surface between the extensor hallucis longus and the extensor digitorum longus tendons on the dorsal surface of the foot distal to the edge of the navicular bone which serves as the best point at which to begin palpation. To palpate the dorsal pedal pulse:

  1. Feel for the distal edge of the navicular bone, and place the tips of two fingers just distal to the edge of the navicular bone, between the tendons of the big toe and the second toe. The hallucis longus tendon can be located by flexing the big toe up slightly which will make it more prominent.
  2. If not palpable, and a foot injury does not prevent the movements, slightly flex the foot so that it is 90 degrees to the lower leg.
  3. If still not palpable, try the other foot and if located it may help you find the landmarks on the first foot
  4. If you had any difficulty locating the pulse, consider marking the foot where it was located to make rechecks easier.