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Peripheral vascular disease diagnosis

1-minute read

If your doctor suspects a diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), they will usually first carry out a physical examination of your leg.

PVD can cause a number of noticeable signs and symptoms, such as:

  • shiny skin
  • brittle toenails
  • hair loss

The ankle brachial pressure index

The ankle brachial index (ABI) is a widely used test in the diagnosis of PVD, as well as a useful way of assessing how well you are responding to treatment. It compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm.

Further testing

In most cases, your doctor will be able to confirm a diagnosis of PVD by doing a physical examination, asking about your symptoms and checking your ABI score. They may also order an ultrasound to look at the blood flow, angiography (where dye is injected into your blood vessels so the doctor can watch the flow of blood using various imaging techniques), or blood tests. They will often refer you to a specialist.

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Last reviewed: January 2018

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