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How to Check the Femoral Artery

By Sari Hardyal ; Updated July 27, 2017

The femoral artery is the major artery of the thigh. It supplies the blood flow to the thigh and leg, and serves as a pressure point for stopping blood flow in case of severe injury to the lower extremity.

The femoral artery is located in the upper third of the thigh, and can be located by palpating the area between the hip and the groin. Once found, the femoral artery will provide a strong pulse, and may serve as a good alternative to taking a person's pulse if the carotid artery is not available.

  1. Locate the femoral artery. Draw an imaginary line from the hip bone to the pubic bone. This should be just above the natural crease in your body where your lower abdomen meets your thigh. Place your fingers on the hip bone and go toward your belly button about three inches. Then go toward your leg about four inches.

  2. Palpate the area to find the pulse. You may have to press fairly deep into the thigh to feel the femoral artery, especially if the patient is obese. The femoral artery lies in the femoral triangle, located in the upper third of the thigh near the groin. Since the location in step one puts you in that triangle, you will only have to move about an inch in each direction to find the artery.

  3. Press on the artery gently with your first two fingers to feel a pulse. You should be able to feel a fairly strong pulse since the femoral artery is so large.

  4. Reposition the patient if you can't find a pulse. Ensure they are lying flat on their back with the legs outstretched. If you still can't find the femoral artery, try rotating the patient's leg externally, opening up the inner thigh region. If that still doesn't work, try repositioning the leg in an external rotation with a slight bend to the knee.

  5. Tip

    Practice palpating the area so you are familiar with exactly where to find the femoral artery in case of emergency.


    Don't press too hard on the femoral artery. This may occlude the artery, causing the blood flow to stop, and not allow you to properly take the pulse.

    Don't use your thumb to find the pulse. Your thumb has its own pulse and may interfere with the pulse you are trying to locate.

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