Arterial pulses are palpable when an artery lies close to the body surface. In the arms, there are two or sometimes three such locations. Pulsations of the brachial artery can be felt in and above the bend of the elbow, just medial to the biceps tendon and muscle. The brachial artery divides into the radial and ulnar arteries. Radial artery pulsations can be felt on the flexor surface of the wrist laterally. Medially, pulsations of the ulnar artery may be palpable, but overlying tissues frequently obscure them.
The radial and ulnar arteries are interconnected by two vascular arches within the hand. Circulation to the hand and fingers is thereby doubly protected against possible arterial occlusion.
In the legs, arterial pulsations can usually be felt in four places. Those of the femoral artery are palpable below the inguinal ligament, midway between the anterior superior iliac spine and the symphysis pubis. The femoral artery travels downward deep within the thigh, passes medially behind the femur, and becomes the popliteal artery. Popliteal pulsations can be felt in the tissues behind the knee. Below the knee, the popliteal artery divides into two branches, both of which continue to the foot. There the anterior branch becomes the dorsalispedis artery. Its pulsations are palpable on the dor-sum of the foot just lateral to the extensor tendon of the big toe. The posterior branch, the posterior tibial artery, can be felt as it passes behind the medial malleolus of the ankle.
Like the hand, the foot is protected by an interconnecting arch between its two chief arterial branches.
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