Rearfoot Transcutaneous Oximetry is a Useful Tool to Highlight Ischemia of the Heel
BACKGROUND Ian Taylor introduced the angiosome concept, separating the body into distinct three-dimensional blocks of tissue fed by source arteries. Understanding the angiosomes of the foot and ankle and the interaction among their source arteries is clinically useful in surgery of the foot and ankle, especially in the presence of peripheral vascular disease. METHODS In 50 cadaver dissections of the lower extremity, arteries were injected with methyl methacrylate in different colors and dissected. Preoperatively, each reconstructive patient's vascular anatomy was routinely analyzed using a Doppler instrument and the results were evaluated. RESULTS There are six angiosomes of the foot and ankle originating from the three main arteries and their branches to the foot and ankle. The three branches of the posterior tibial artery each supply distinct portions of the plantar foot. The two branches of the peroneal artery supply the anterolateral portion of the ankle and rear foot. The anterior tibial artery supplies the anterior ankle, and its continuation, the dorsalis pedis artery, supplies the dorsum of the foot. Blood flow to the foot and ankle is redundant, because the three major arteries feeding the foot have multiple arterial-arterial connections. By selectively performing a Doppler examination of these connections, it is possible to quickly map the existing vascular tree and the direction of flow. CONCLUSIONS Detailed knowledge of the vascular anatomy of the foot and ankle allows the plastic surgeon to plan vascularly sound reconstructions, the foot and ankle surgeon to design safe exposures of the underlying skeleton, and the vascular surgeon to choose the most effective revascularization for a given wound.