Arterial supply to the foot

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 26 Aug 2021

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

  • gives off its calcaneal branch 
  • then divides into the medial and lateral plantar arteries
  • branch of the posterior tibial artery
  • larger caliber 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 muscles
  • gives off a superficial branch that follows its respective nerve
  • continues as a deep trunk to form the 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 and gives off the plantar metatarsal arteries
  • joins the dorsalis pedis artery in the proximal part of the first intermetatarsal space
  • there are four metatarsal arteries
  • branch of the plantar arch
  • supply the four clefts and digits
  • anastomose with the dorsal metatarsal arteries via perforating arteries
  • continuation of the anterior tibial artery
  • starts between the malleoli, over the lower end of the tibia
  • runs lateral to extensor hallucis longus muscle 
  • 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
  • continuation of the dorsalis pedis artery
  • supplies the first cleft and the medial side of the dorsum of the great toe
  • two or three branches from the dorsalis pedis artery
  • ramify on the medial border of the foot and join the medial malleolar arterial network
  • branch of the dorsalis pedis artery 
  • travels laterally supplying underlying tarsal bones
  • lies beneath extensor digitorum brevis muscle, which it supplies
  • anastomoses with perforating branch of the fibular artery (taking part in anastomosis around ankle joint)
  • branch of the dorsalis pedis artery
  • also travels laterally
  • runs beneath the tendons of extensor digitorum brevis muscle, over the bases of the metatarsal bones
  • gives off dorsal metatarsal arteries
  • anastomoses with the lateral tarsal artery
  • there are three metatarsal arteries
  • branches of 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
  • absence of the dorsalis pedis artery: dorsal supply from the plantar arteries 
  • dorsalis pedis as the continuation of the peroneal artery
  • hypoplastic dorsalis pedis
  • absence of the arcuate artery 
  • arcuate artery arising from the lateral tarsal artery 
  • supply of the dorsal metatarsal arteries from the plantar arch alone 
  • no communication between the plantar and dorsal arch 

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: plantar arteries (Gray's illustrations)
    Drag here to reorder.