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Absent Lower Limb Pulses

March 28th, 2020


Strong femoral, popliteal, posterior tibial and dorsalis pulses are reassuring, while weak or absent lower limb pulses represent vascular compromise that may be limb-threatening if acute.
  • Pulses in the Lower Limb

  • Femoral - palpate within the inguinal region, halfway between the pubic symphysis and iliac crest.
  • Popliteal - bend the patient's knee to 90 degrees, gently grasp both sides of the knee joint and palpate using tips of fingers within the popliteal fossa posteriorly.
  • Posterior tibial - palpate posteriorly and inferiorly to the medial malleolus.
  • Dorsalis pedis - palpate lateral to the extensor tendon of the great toe. This can be identified by asking the patient to extend their great toe.
  • Causes of Absent Lower Limb Pulses

  • Vascular trauma
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Shock
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