Examination of peripheral arteries – Radial artery

Definition:

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

Test procedure:

With your patient lying inclined at roughly fourty-five degrees, the practitioner supinates the patient’s wrist. Locate the radial artery (which is palpable), just proximal to the carpal tunnel on the lateral side of the wrist, medial to the radius.

Test findings:

The rate, rhythm and quality of the pulsations of the radial artery are appreciated. A normal resting pulse rate for an untrained adult is between sixty and one hundred beats per minute, with that of a well-trained adult between forty and sixty beats per minute.

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:

Pulse rates and quality vary with age, level of physical activity, stress/emotion, cardiovascular performance which may be affect by illness, operations etc. and also vary according to the site at which the pulse is being taken. It is normal for peripheral pulses such as that of the radial artery to be weaker than that of the abdominal aorta for example, which is closer to the heart.