Arterial supply to the foot

Last revised by Yoshi Yu on 17 Mar 2023

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

  • 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 as it runs 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 inter-metatarsal space 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

  • runs beneath the tendons of extensor digitorum brevis muscle, over the bases of the metatarsal bones

  • courses laterally along the metatarsal bases

  • gives off dorsal metatarsal arteries

  • anastomoses with the lateral tarsal artery

  • three arteries arise from the arcuate artery (first artery is a direct continuation of dorsalis pedis artery)

  • travel in the lateral three inter-metatarsal spaces

  • 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.
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