A cadaveric study showing the anatomical variations in the branches of the dorsalis pedis artery at the level of the ankle joint and its clinical implication in ankle arthroscopy

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION

Pseudoaneurysm formation following ankle arthroscopy is a rare but potentially catastrophic complication. The placement of anterior ankle portals carries inherent risk to the superficial and deep peroneal nerves, as well as to the dorsalis pedis artery. Anatomical variations in the dorsalis pedis and the presence of branches at the joint line may increase the risk of vascular injury and pseudoaneurysm formation during arthroscopy. There is limited anatomical evidence available regarding the branches of the dorsalis pedis artery, which occur at the point at which they cross the ankle joint.

OBJECTIVES

The objective of the study was to describe the frequency and direction of branches of the dorsalis pedis crossing the ankle joint.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Nineteen cadaveric feet were carefully dissected to explore the course of the dorsalis pedis artery, noting in particular the branching pattern at the joint line.

RESULTS

Eleven of the nineteen feet had a branch of the dorsalis pedis artery that crossed the level of the ankle joint. Out of these, six were lateral, four medial and one bilateral. Eight of the eleven specimens had one branch at, or just before, the level of the joint. Two specimens had two branches and one had three branches crossing the ankle, which were all in the same direction, crossing laterally to the main trunk of the dorsalis pedis.

CONCLUSIONS

Our study demonstrated high rates of branching of the dorsalis pedis artery at the level of the ankle joint. The role of these branches in pseudoaneurysm formation during anterior hindfoot surgery remains unclear.

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