Center For Vascular Medicine offers several non-invasive tests to diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD). Certain risk factors are almost always present in patients with PAD, such as medical history, strong family history, tobacco use, and diabetes.
A diagnosis for PAD generally comes after symptoms are reported, however, not all patients with PAD may experience symptoms. The diagnosis of peripheral artery disease is important because people with PAD are at higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and limb loss.
How We Diagnose Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Physical Exam & Consultation
The first step in diagnosing PAD is a physical exam and consultation. Our nationally renowned health care team will conduct a thorough consultation and review of your medical and health history. In addition, we will perform a physical examination including evaluation of the circulatory system which may include any one or more of the following tests:
- Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)
- Pulse Volume Recording (PVR)
- Guided Genetic Medication Therapy
Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)
* Ankle Brachial Index Image from National Institute of Health
The ankle brachial index, or ABI, is performed using blood pressure cuffs on the arms and legs. The exam is non-invasive and can generally be completed in under 5 minutes. In this test, we are comparing blood pressure in the arms to blood pressure in the legs to identify problems in the peripheral arteries.
Pulse Volume Recording (PVR)
Pulse Volume Recording is another non-invasive test, similar to ABI, used to measure blood flow within the arteries of the lower limbs. PVR can detect a narrowing or obstruction in the vessel and help identify the location of blockage in the artery. The test is usually complete in about 15 to 20 minutes.
Duplex Ultrasound Examination
The ultrasound is considered by many to be the gold standard for diagnostic evaluation of the arterial system. A handheld device is passed back and forth over the affected area. Sound waves are converted into a digital image of the blood flow in the arteries and veins.
With the ultrasound, our physicians can identify the approximate location of a blocked artery, as well as the severity of the blockage.
An angiogram (also called an arteriogram) is an outpatient procedure used to capture an image of blood vessels. Because arteries are not normally visible by x-ray, a special dye and camera are used to highlight the vessels. This is called fluoroscopy.
The physician will insert a catheter in the upper thigh and guide it through the vessel all the way to the heart. Once in position, a special dye is injected. As the dye passes through the artery, an x-ray is taken to mark the flow of blood.
This test is performed under light anesthesia to keep you comfortable, yet awake during the procedure. The angiogram procedure generally takes about one hour and recovery lasts from 2 - 3 hours. The dye will be excreted with the urine.
In some cases, it may be possible to treat a blockage found within an artery during an angiogram. Our doctors may uses a balloon catheter or stenting to open the artery.
* Angiogram For PAD Diagnosis Image from Society for Vascular Surgery
Center for Vascular Medicine is a leading provider in the field of Personalized Medicine, promoting the full integration of the pharmacogenomic process for improved patient outcomes. Center for Vascular Medicine integrates the components, The Physician, The Lab, and The Pharmacy in the HIPAA-compliant process that results in an individualized patient report.