Examination of peripheral arteries – Femoral artery

Definition:

The clinical use of palpation to obtain a qualitative reading of an individual’s pulse at the femoral artery.

Test procedure:

With your patient lying supine and slightly inclined, locate the anterior superior iliac spine and the pubic symphysis. These two points are connected by the inguinal ligament, through which run the femoral vein, artery and nerve in this same order from medial to lateral. With your finger-tips, move medially off proximal rectus femoris ligament (this structure is made more obvious by asking the patient to raise their leg) and gently palpate the area, slowly moving medially until you come across the pulsations of the femoral artery.

Test findings:

The rate, rhythm and quality of the pulsations of the femoral artery are appreciated.
A good guide for knowing how many pulsations is normal, is for there to be approximately four pulsations for every breath taken.
The practitioner should be looking for any signs of pathological pulses.

Special considerations:

The femoral artery is palpated proximal to the genitals, consent is to be obtained before commencing the examination. The patient’s modesty must be protected.