The Anatomy and Physiology of the Venous Foot Pump

Authors

  • Gavin J. Corley,

    1. School of Engineering & Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
    2. National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
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  • Barry J. Broderick,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Engineering & Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
    2. National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
    • Bioelectronics Research Cluster, National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland
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    • Tel: +353-91-493126. Fax: +353 91 494511.

  • Sarah M. Nestor,

    1. Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
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  • Paul P. Breen,

    1. School of Engineering & Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
    2. National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
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  • Pierce A. Grace,

    1. Department of Vascular Surgery, Mid-Western Regional Hospital-Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
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  • Fabio Quondamatteo,

    1. Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
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  • Gearóid Ólaighin

    1. School of Engineering & Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
    2. National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
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Abstract

The presence of a venous pumping mechanism in the foot may be significant for venous return in the lower extremities. However, there has been a lack of conclusive research in the area to date and controversy still exists over the detailed anatomy and physiologic mechanism of the venous foot pump. A full understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the venous foot pump is essential for designing effective interventions for the prevention, treatment, and management of venous disease in the lower limbs. This article highlights and discusses the relevant literature relating to the anatomy and physiology of the venous foot pump. In addition, the plantar aspects of 10 cadaveric feet were dissected. These dissections revealed the presence of a previously unreported secondary deep plantar arch and/or deep system of venous connections in the foot and facilitated a more detailed description of the patterns of doubling and branching of the primary veins of the foot. The results of these dissections are discussed within the context of previous work in the field with the aid of detailed diagrams of the dissected feet and may provide a backdrop for the physiology of the venous foot pump and its potential role in lower limb circulation. This is discussed in the last section of the article, which also highlights existing controversy regarding the role of weight bearing and muscular contraction as the dominant mechanisms for venous pumping in the foot. Anat Rec, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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