E Weak (thready).
G Intermittent (irregular).
Figure 3-1. Pulse patterns.
WHICH ARTERY IS PALPATED WHEN A PULSE IS TAKEN?
There are several sites on the body where a pulse is normally taken. All arteries
have a pulse, but it is easier to palpate (feel) the pulse at certain locations. It is easier
to feel the pulse when the artery is near the surface of the skin and when there is firm
tissue (such as a bone) beneath the artery. The three most common sites are the radial
(wrist), carotid (throat), and brachial (inside of elbow). These and other sites are
discussed below and illustrated in figure 3-2. The site or sites that you choose to use
may vary depending upon the condition of the patient. For example, suppose that you
are assisting someone who is bleeding severely from a wound in his thigh. After giving
the person first aid to stop the bleeding, you will check the person's pulse at a point
below the injury to make sure that your bandage has not cut off the blood circulation to
the lower leg. You may take the pulse at the popliteal (behind the knee) site, the
dorsalis pedis (top of the foot) site, and/or the posterior tibial (back of the ankle) site.
a. Radial. The radial pulse (the pulse taken using the radial artery) is taken at a
point where the radial artery crosses the bones of the wrist. If the patient's hand is
turned so that the palm is up, the radial pulse is taken on the thumb side of top side of
b. Carotid. The carotid pulse is taken on either side of the trachea (windpipe).
The best location is the grooves located to the right and to the left of the larynx (Adam's
c. Brachial. The brachial pulse is taken in the depression located about one-
half inch above the crease on the inside (not the bony side) of the elbow. This site is
used when taking the patient's blood pressure.