Examination of peripheral arteries – Popliteal artery


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

Test procedure:

With your patient lying supine and slightly inclined, bend their knee to be tested at approximately one hundred and twenty-five degree using your hand wrapped around your patient’s knee and your finger-tips in contact with the popliteal fossa. The popliteal artery is medial to the semitendinosous and semimembranosous muscles. Gently palpate the area until you come across the pulsation of the popliteal artery.

Test findings:

The rate, rhythm and quality of the pulsations of the popliteal 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:

This pulse of this artery can be slightly harder to come across than that of the others.