An ankle-brachial index (ABI) test is a simple way for your doctor to check how well your blood is flowing. She would use this test to check for peripheral artery disease. This means you have blockages in the arteries of your legs. This slows down your blood flow, and your limbs don’t get as much of the oxygen they need. The test compares the blood pressure at your ankle with the blood pressure at your arm.
You might need the ankle-brachial index test for a few reasons:
The test lasts 10 to 15 minutes. First, you lie down on a table. Your doctor uses a cuff that wraps around your arm to take your blood pressure. You’ll feel a mild pressure while it inflates, but that doesn’t last long.
Your doctor will use what’s called a Flocheck device. It connects to a speaker and lets the technician hear your blood flow. To use the device, the technician will first put a dab of gel on your arm just below the blood pressure cuff. Then, she’ll place the ultrasound device on the gel. This helps the technician know when to take your blood pressure reading. She will do the same steps on your other arm, then on both ankles.
Your doctor uses the blood pressure results to come up with a number called the ankle-brachial index. Here’s what the numbers mean:
You may need changes to your lifestyle or to start making medicine. In some rare cases, your doctor may suggest surgery. If you have severe PAD, your doctor may send you to a vascular specialist, a doctor who treats diseases in arteries and veins.