The dorsalis pedis artery (DPA) is the largest blood vessel distal to the ankle joint. It is the continuation of the anterior tibial artery (ATA) and runs along the dorsum of the foot until the 1st intermetatarsal space. The DPA gives rise to five branches, viz. medial tarsal, lateral tarsal, arcuate, deep plantar and dorsal metatarsal arteries. Given the vast blood supply provided by the DPA, in the current era of microvascular surgery, the anatomy of the DPA is of increasing interest to anatomists, surgeons and angiographers. The aim of this study was to outline the course, origin, branching patterns and possible variations of the DPA. The present study included the dissection of forty (n=40) cadaveric specimens of the lower limb region (Left: 25; Right: 15). The origin, course and branching patterns of the artery were studied. These morphological parameters were further analysed with regard to laterality to determine if a correlation existed. The Pearson Chi-square test was employed and a p value of less than 0.05 was deemed statistically significant. Although the DPA was present in 97.5 % of cases, it followed the standard anatomical description in only 42.5 % of cases. The DPA originated from the peroneal artery in 5 % of cases. In 25 % of cases, DPA deviated laterally. Variation in the branching pattern of the DPA, which was recorded in 50 % of cases, was further classified according Types 1 to 6. The findings of this study correlated closely with most previous studies. However, the incidence of lateral deviation of the DPA was higher in this study as well as the incidence of Type 1 variation in branching pattern. Additionally, this study proposes a novel variation in branching pattern which has been termed Type 6, which displays a recurrent branch of the Type 5 variation. The DPA has an important role in a clinical setting since the DPA flap is employed in reconstructive surgeries and peripheral circulation may be assessed by the palpation of the DPA pulse. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the anatomy of the DPA is of prime importance to podiatrists, surgeons, anatomists and angiographers.
KEY WORDS: Dorsalis Pedis Artery; Arterial Anatomy; Dorsalis Pedis Flap; Dorsalis Pedis Pulse.