Reconstruction of the arteries of the foot in patients with severe chronic arterial occlusive disease has become a routine and valuable procedure. However, it is frequently difficult to select the optimal site for the distal arterial anastomosis. In order to determine the most important anatomic variations of foot arteries and the relationship of the dorsalis pedis artery to crossing tendons, the following study was performed in 30 cadaver limbs of 17 persons (9 men and 8 women). Their mean age at death was 69.8 years (range: 42 to 93 years). Methods to evaluate anatomy included anatomic dissection, arteriography, and preparation of corrosion cast models. The latter was performed by injection of liquid plastic and catalyst into the tibial arteries followed by chemical débridement of the soft tissue of the foot. Photographs of the corrosion cast models were taken at various stages of soft tissue dissolution. The dorsalis pedis artery was absent in 6.7% of the cases, and the arcuate artery was absent in 33%. The dorsalis pedis artery arose from the peroneal artery in 6.7%. The dorsalis pedis artery crossed under the extensor hallucis longus tendon at the ankle in 54%, above the ankle in 43%, but below the ankle in only 3%. Our study suggests that the optimal site for the dorsalis pedis artery anastomosis on the foot is the segment distal to the ankle.
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