How to Check the Femoral Pulse: A Guide from MyCPR NOW

Fermoral Pulse

Checking a person’s pulse is an essential skill in assessing their circulatory status. The common femoral artery plays a crucial role in pulse assessment and should be examined as part of a complete physical examination to evaluate the arterial system. Located in the upper thigh, the common femoral artery emerges from beneath the inguinal ligament. The femoral pulse, located in the groin area, is one of the key pulse points used in emergency situations when other pulse sites are difficult to access. In this blog post, we will discuss how to check the femoral pulse and provide step-by-step guidance based on the insights from MyCPR NOW, a trusted resource for first aid and CPR education.

MyCPR NOW's Guidance on Checking the Femoral Pulse:

MyCPR NOW offers valuable resources and knowledge on first aid, emergency care, and pulse assessment. Proper technique and understanding of the femoral pulse, along with the examination of the lower extremities, can aid in evaluating a person’s circulation and blood flow. Additionally, monitoring blood pressure is crucial in assessing circulatory status. Let’s explore the details with the guidance provided by MyCPR NOW.

1. Positioning and Preparation: Identifying the Inguinal Ligament

To check the femoral pulse, it is crucial to create a comfortable and safe environment for both you and the individual. Follow these initial steps:

  • Position the individual: Ensure the person is lying flat on their back on a stable surface.

  • Expose the groin area: Gently lift or roll up the person’s clothing to expose the groin area where the femoral artery is located. The femoral artery can be found just below the inguinal ligament.

  • Communicate and reassure: Inform the person that you will be checking their pulse and provide reassurance throughout the process.

2. Locate the Femoral Artery Pulse:

The femoral artery is located in the groin area, midway between the pubic bone and the anterior superior iliac spine. Follow these steps to locate the femoral pulse:

  • Place your fingertips: Use your index and middle fingers together to palpate the area gently. Position your fingers slightly to the side of the midline.

  • Find the femoral pulse: Press downward, applying light pressure until you feel a pulsation beneath your fingers. The pulsation indicates that you have located the femoral artery.

Palpating femoral pulses is crucial in clinical assessments, especially for diagnosing conditions like aortic coarctation.

In addition to the femoral pulse, assessing the abdominal aorta is crucial during physical examinations. Palpation and auscultation of the abdominal aorta can help detect significant vascular pathology such as aortic coarctation.

3. Assess the Quality, Rate, and Blood Pressure:

Once you have located the femoral pulse, assess its quality and rate. MyCPR NOW provides the following considerations:

  • Quality of the pulse: Evaluate the strength of the pulse, which can range from weak and thready to strong and bounding. Note any abnormalities, such as irregular rhythms or skipped beats.

  • Ankle brachial index: The ankle brachial index is crucial in diagnosing circulatory issues, particularly in patients with uncontrolled hypertension and major cerebrovascular events. Including ankle brachial index measurements in the comprehensive cardiovascular examination aids in the early diagnosis and management of aortic malformations.

  • Rate of the pulse: Count the number of beats you feel over a 60-second interval or use a shorter time frame (e.g., 15 seconds) and multiply the count by four to determine the pulse rate per minute. Normal pulse rates for adults typically range from 60 to 100 beats per minute.

4. Record and Interpret Findings of the Common Femoral Artery:

After assessing the femoral pulse, record your findings. It is also important to assess the posterior tibial artery, located posterior to the medial malleolus, by curling your fingers around the ankle and applying the thumb for stability to detect the pulse. Document the pulse rate, quality, and any relevant observations. If there are any concerns or abnormalities, such as a weak or absent pulse, notify healthcare professionals promptly.

5. Continue Monitoring:

Remember that pulse assessment is not a one-time measurement. The dorsalis pedis artery plays a crucial role in ongoing pulse assessment, especially when the patient is in the recumbent position with the ankle relaxed. In emergency situations or during ongoing care, continue to monitor the femoral pulse periodically. Changes in pulse quality, rate, or rhythm may indicate a deteriorating or improving circulatory status.

6. Seek Medical Attention:

If you are unable to detect a femoral pulse or if there are concerns about the person’s circulatory status, seek immediate medical attention. Superficial veins, such as the long (greater) and short (lesser) saphenous veins, play a significant role in diagnosing circulatory issues due to their visibility and the pressures they endure. The absence of a pulse may indicate a critical condition that requires prompt medical intervention.


Checking the femoral pulse is a valuable skill in assessing a person’s circulatory status, particularly in emergency situations. Accurate pulse assessment is important for evaluating how blood flows through the arteries, which can indicate overall circulatory health. MyCPR NOW provides insightful guidance on how to check the femoral pulse, emphasizing proper positioning, palpation techniques, and assessment of pulse quality and rate. Additionally, the posterior tibial artery plays a crucial role in a comprehensive evaluation, as palpating and examining its pulse can provide further insights into circulatory status. Remember, if there are any concerns or difficulties in detecting the pulse, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. MyCPR NOW serves as a reliable resource for first aid education, offering comprehensive insights into pulse assessment and emergency care.

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