PAD Diagnosis


Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) Test

lllustration courtesy of NHLBI

Several tests may be required to diagnose PAD and determine the extent of the disease. Some of these tests may be performed in a primary care physician's office, whereas others may be performed by a vascular specialist or in a vascular lab. Most tests are non-invasive and thus should be fairly painless.

How do I find out if I have PAD? If you think you have PAD, see your health care provider and talk about any symptoms you are having and go over your medical history and your risk factors for PAD. Your provider will examine the pulses in your feet and legs. If your provider finds those pulses are weak and thinks you may have PAD, your provider may order a test called the ABI, which stands for ankle-brachial index. The ABI is the best test for finding out if you have PAD. It uses sound waves to find out if there is reduced blood flow in the arteries. It also compares the blood pressure in your ankles with the blood pressure in your arms. PAD also can be diagnosed by other tests that measure blood pressures in the leg (segmental pressure), toe pressures (toe-brachial index or TBI) or artery blood flow (with ultrasound).