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 arteries
  • two or three branches from the dorsalis pedis artery
  • ramify on the medial border of the foot an join the medial malleolar arterial network
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
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Article information

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

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