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Avoiding the Deep Plantar Arterial Arch in Transmetatarsal Amputations: A Cadaver Study

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  • 1 Podiatry, Beloit Health System, Beloit, WI.
  • | 2 Kentucky/Indiana Foot and Ankle Specialists, Bowling Green, KY.
  • | 3 Foot and Ankle Center of Nebraska and Iowa, Omaha, NE.
  • | 4 Physical Therapy/Academic, Des Moines University, Des Moines, IA.
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Background: The deep plantar arterial arch (DPAA) is formed by an anastomosis between the deep plantar artery and the lateral plantar artery. The potential risk of injury to the DPAA is concerning when performing transmetatarsal amputations, and care must be taken to preserve the anatomy. We sought to determine the positional anatomy of the DPAA based on anatomical landmarks that could be easily identified and palpated during transmetatarsal amputation.

Methods: In an effort to improve our understanding of the positional relationship of the DPAA to the distal metatarsal parabola, dissections were performed on 45 cadaveric feet to measure the location of the DPAA with respect to the distal metatarsal epiphyses. Images of the dissected specimens were digitally acquired and saved for measurement using in-house–written software. The mean, SD, SEM, and 95% confidence interval were calculated for all of the measurement parameters and are reported on pooled data and by sex. An independent-samples t test was used to assess for sex differences. Interrater reliability of the measurements was estimated using the intraclass correlation coefficient.

Results: The origin of the DPAA was located a mean ± SD of 35.6 ± 3.9 mm (95% confidence interval, 34.5–36.8 mm) proximal to the perpendicular line connecting the first and fifth metatarsal heads. The average interrater reliability across all of the measurements was 0.921.

Conclusions: This study provides the positional relationship of the DPAA with respect to the distal metatarsal parabola. This method is easily reproducible and may assist the foot and ankle surgeon with surgical planning and approach when performing partial pedal amputation.

Corresponding author: James H. Whelan, DPM, Podiatry, Beloit Health System, 1905 E Huebbe Pkwy, Beloit, WI 53511. (E-mail: jim.h.whelan@gmail.com).