The arcuate artery of the foot is generally considered one of two major branches of the dorsalis pedis artery, arising just in front of the lateral tarsal artery. However, research has shown that the lateral tarsal may be the true origin of the arcuate artery in certain individuals.
From its point of origin, the arcuate artery travels horizontally across the base of the metatarsal bones in the middle of the foot (lengthwise). It then passes under the tendons of the extensor digitorum brevis to connect the lateral tarsal and lateral plantar arteries.
The branches of the arcuate artery include the second, third, and fourth dorsal metatarsal arteries.
In a study of 72 cadavers, the arcuate artery of the foot was present in only 16.7 percent of the feet, which means that it may not be the primary source of blood for the second through fourth dorsal metatarsal arteries. It was determined that a network of arteries differentiates during development to supply the dorsal metatarsal arteries. This supply may come from the arcuate artery, the lateral tarsal artery, the proximal perforating arteries, or a combination of the three.