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Peripheral Artery Evaluation

Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Diagnostic testing for peripheral arterial disease falls into two primary categories: Physiologic and Ultrasound.

  • Physiologic testing (nonimaging) uses blood pressure cuffs and Doppler ultrasound techniques to evaluate vessels in the arms and legs. Ankle-brachial indices (ABIs) are calculated by comparing the pressures in the ankles to those in the arms. These are used primarily to evaluate leg pain and cramping, and determine wound-healing ability.
  • Ultrasound testing (imaging) is used to examine arterial conditions such as aneurysms. It also is used in addition to physiologic testing to help treat and monitor the progression of peripheral arterial disease.

What to expect during the test

  • You may be asked to change into a gown and remove all jewelry.
  • You will be asked to lie on your back while a technologist places a sensor on several areas of your legs and arms. The sensor will have a small amount of cool gel on the end. The gel helps produce clearer pictures and will not harm your skin.
  • Blood pressure readings may be performed on various parts of body, including your legs, arms and toes.
  • The only discomfort you may feel from the ultrasound is the coolness from the gel or a slight pressure from the sensor as it moves along your extremities. You may feel somewhat more discomfort from the tightness and restriction of the blood pressure readings.
  • You may hear swooshing sounds during the ultrasound as the sound waves are detected.
  • Sometimes a stress test may be required during your procedure. Small electrodes may be placed on your chest to monitor your heart, and you will be asked to run or walk for a short period of time on a treadmill. The ultrasound and blood pressure readings will be performed again after your time on the treadmill. The stress test will help detect any changes in blood flow resulting from exercise or activity.
  • The entire test takes about 45 minutes to complete.

What to expect after the test

  • If your test results are normal you may resume your regular activities immediately following the test.
  • A vascular surgeon will use your scan to assess any blockages or abnormalities in your arteries.
  • Results from your scan will be prepared by the vascular surgeon, and a report will be mailed to your primary care physician.

Returning home

If you have any questions about your care after you return home, call your physician's office.

To find a physician visit our Find a Doc or call (502) 629-1234 for a physician referral.

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