Dr. Praya Mam, board certified podiatrist at American Foot & Let Specialist explains how a diagnosis is made to determine if a person has peripheral arterial disease. First a physical exam is made. Close attention is made to the feet and toes. Blood pressure is taken on arm and ankle as well. This is called Ankle-bracial Index (ABI). This compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm.

Diagnosing Peripheral Arterial Disease

Some of the tests that are used to diagnose peripheral artery disease are:

  • Physical exam. Peripheral Vascular Disease can be found during a physical examination.  This can occur through symptoms such as a weak or absent pulse below a narrowed area of your artery. As well as, whooshing sounds over your arteries that can be heard with a stethoscope.  Additionally, evidence of poor wound healing in the area where your blood flow is restricted, and decreased blood pressure in your affected limb.
  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI). This is a common test used to diagnose PAD. It compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm. To get a blood pressure reading, a regular blood pressure cuff and a special ultrasound device to evaluate blood pressure and flow.Another method would be to walk on a treadmill and have readings taken before and immediately after exercising. This can capture the severity of the narrowed arteries during walking.
  • Ultrasound. Special ultrasound imaging techniques, such as Doppler ultrasound, can help your doctor evaluate blood flow through your blood vessels and identify blocked or narrowed arteries.
  • Angiography. Using a dye (contrast material) injected into your blood vessels. This test allows your us to view blood flow through your arteries as it happens. Your doctor is able to trace the flow of the contrast material using imaging techniques, such as X-ray imaging or procedures called magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or computerized tomography angiography (CTA).
  • Blood tests. A sample of your blood can be used to measure your cholesterol and triglycerides and to check for diabetes.