Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Location and Palpation of Pedal Pulses


Dorsalis Pedis: To palpate pulse, place fingers just lateral to the extensor tendon of the great toe. If you cannot feel a pulse, move fingers more laterally.

Posterior Tibial: To palpate pulse, place fingers behind and slightly below the medial malleolus of the ankle. In an obese or edematous ankle, the pulse may be more difficult to feel.

Note: To enhance technique: Assume a comfortable position for you and the client. Place hand in position and linger on the site. Varying pressure may assist in picking up a weak pulsation. Do not confuse client’s pulse with your own pulsating fingertips. Use your carotid pulse for comparison, if needed.