Anatomy of the foot venous pump: physiology and influence on chronic venous disease

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the location of the venous foot pump using an anatomical study. Four hundred cadaveric feet were injected with green neoprene latex followed by a dissection. A coloured segmentation of the venous system was achieved. The Lejars’ concept of the venous sole of the foot is incorrect: the true blood venous reservoir of the foot is located deeply in the plantar veins, between the plantar muscles. The medial and mostly lateral plantar veins converge into the plexus shaped calcaneal crossroad, where the blood is ejected upwards into the two posterior tibial veins. In addition, the several medial perforators of the foot directly connect the deep system (medial plantar veins) to the superficial venous system (medial marginal vein). This forms a true ‘medial functional unit’ which is unique in the limb given its directional flow is from deep to superficial. In conclusion, the plantar veins play an important role in the physiology of the venous return since a venous reservoir of 25 mL of blood is mobilized upwards with each step during walking. Therefore, the impairment of the foot pump by a static foot disorder should be considered as an important risk factor for chronic venous disease, and should be evaluated and corrected in any patient with venous insufficiency.