Arterial supply to the foot

Arterial supply to the foot can be divided into plantar and dorsal components.

Plantar arterial supply

Medial plantar artery
  • branch off the posterior tibial artery
  • smaller calibre vessel
  • supplies the medial side of the foot, abductor hallucis and flexor digitorum brevis.
  • provides the arterial digital supply to the big toe
  • gives off cutaneous branches that perforate the plantar aponeurosis between abductor hallucis and flexor digitorum brevis
Lateral plantar artery
  • branch off the posterior tibial artery
  • larger calibre vessel
  • crosses the sole obliquely towards the base of the fifth metatarsal bone
  • gives off cutaneous branches that perforate the plantar aponeurosis between flexor digitorum brevis and abductor digiti minimi
  • gives off a superficial branch that follows its respective nerve
  • continues as a deep trunk to form the plantar arch
Plantar arch
  • anastomosis of the lateral plantar artery and dorsalis pedis artery
  • only arterial plantar arch in the foot
  • lies in the neurovascular plane deep to the plantar aponeurosis, superficial to the long tendons (between the first and second anatomical layers)
  • travels across the bases of the fourth, third, and second metatarsals
  • joins the dorsalis pedis artery in the proximal part of the first intermetatarsal space
Plantar metatarsal arteries 
  • there are four metatarsal arteries
  • branch off the plantar arch
  • supply the four clefts and digits
  • anastomose with the dorsal metatarsal arteries via perforating arteries

Dorsal arterial supply

Dorsalis pedis artery
  • continuation of the anterior tibial artery
  • starts between the malleoli, over the lower end of the tibia
  • runs lateral to extensor hallucis longus 
  • runs to the base of the first intermetatarsal space, where its deep branch joins the plantar arch
  • also branches to form the medial tarsal artery, lateral tarsal artery, arcuate artery
  • continues as the first dorsal metatarsal artery
First dorsal metatarsal artery
  • continuation of the dorsalis pedis artery
  • supplies the first cleft and the medial side of the dorsum of the great toe
Medial tarsal artery
Lateral tarsal artery
  • branch off the dorsalis pedis artery 
  • travels laterally supplying underlying tarsal bones
  • lies beneath extensor digitorum brevis, supplying that muscle
  • anastomoses with perforating branch of the fibular artery (taking part in anastomosis around ankle joint)
Arcuate artery
  • branch off the dorsalis pedis artery
  • also travels laterally
  • runs beneath the tendons of extensor digitorum brevis, over the bases of the metatarsal bones
  • gives off dorsal metatarsal arteries
  • anastomoses with the lateral tarsal artery
Dorsal metatarsal arteries
  • there are three metatarsal arteries
  • branches off the arcuate artery
  • travel in the lateral three clefts
  • give off proximal and distal perforating branches that communicate with the plantar metatarsal arteries of the plantar arch
  • continues into the toes as dorsal digital arteries
Lower limb anatomy
Share article

Article information

rID: 33110
System: Vascular
Section: Anatomy
Tags: foot, anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Arterial blood supply to the foot

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.
Loadinganimation

Alert accept

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.