Examination of the arterial pulse
- Bernard J Gersh, MB, ChB, DPhil, FRCP, MACC
Bernard J Gersh, MB, ChB, DPhil, FRCP, MACC
- Editor-in-Chief — Cardiovascular Medicine
- Section Editor — Coronary Heart Disease; Myopericardial Disease
- Professor of Medicine
- Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Assessment of the arterial pulse characteristics is an integral part of the cardiovascular examination. Carotid, radial, brachial, femoral, posterior tibial, and dorsalis pedis pulses should be routinely examined bilaterally to ascertain any differences in the pulse amplitude, contour, or upstroke. Popliteal pulses should also be examined when lower extremity arterial disease is suspected.
The carotid pulse contour is very similar to that of the central aortic pulse; a delay in the onset of the ascending limb of the carotid pulse, compared with the central aortic pulse, is only about 20 msec. Thus, examination of the carotid pulse provides the most accurate representation of changes in the central aortic pulse. The brachial arterial pulse is examined to assess the volume and consistency of the peripheral vessels.
UNEQUAL OR DELAYED PULSES
Inequality in the amplitude of the peripheral pulses may result from:
●Obstructive arterial diseases, most commonly atherosclerosis
●Aortic dissectionTo continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- UNEQUAL OR DELAYED PULSES
- PULSUS ALTERNANS
- Etiology of pulsus alternans
- Mechanism of pulsus alternans
- PULSUS PARADOXUS
- Etiology of pulsus paradoxus
- Mechanism of pulsus paradoxus
- PULSUS BISFERIENS
- Etiology of pulsus bisferiens
- Mechanism of pulsus bisferiens
- DICROTIC PULSE
- WATER HAMMER PULSE
- PULSES IN AORTIC STENOSIS
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS