Examination of peripheral arteries – Dorsalis pedis


The clinical use of palpation to obtain a qualitative reading of an individual’s pulse at the dorsalis pedis artery.

Test procedure:

With your patient lying supine and slightly inclined, locate the tendon of extensor hallucis longus. The dorsalis pedis artery is located directly lateral to this tendon.

Test findings: Positive & negative

The rate, rhythm and quality of the pulsations of the dorsalis pedis artery are appreciated. A normal resting pulse rate for an untrained adult is between sixty and one hundred beats per minute, with that of a well-trained adult between fourty and sixty beats per minute.

A good guide for knowing how many pulsations is normal, is for there to be approximately four pulsations for every breath taken.

The practitioner should be looking for any signs of pathological pulses.

Special considerations:

Due to its distance from the heart, it is normal for this pulse to appear slightly fainter than pulses more proximal.