Ankle Brachial Indices (ABI)
The ankle-brachial index test is a quick, noninvasive way to check your risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Learn More About Ankle Brachial Indices (ABI)
The ankle-brachial index test compares your blood pressure measured at your ankle with your blood pressure measured at your arm. A low ankle-brachial index number can indicate narrowing or blockage of the arteries in your legs, increasing your risk of circulatory problems, and possibly causing heart disease or stroke.
The ankle-brachial index test is sometimes recommended as part of a series of three tests, including the carotid ultrasound and abdominal ultrasound, to check for blocked or diseased arteries.
Generally, you won’t need to follow any special instructions before your appointment to have an ankle-brachial index test performed. You may want to wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows the technician performing your ankle-brachial index test to easily place a blood pressure cuff on your ankle and upper arm.
One of our board-certified Radiologists will interpret your exam and send a report to your physician within 5 business days. Contact your referring physician for any information pertaining to the findings.
Typically your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician’s order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand, and call 850-878-4127.
You lie on a table on your back, and a technician measures your blood pressure in both your arms using an inflatable cuff. Then, the technician measures the blood pressure in two arteries in both your ankles using the inflatable cuff and a hand-held Doppler ultrasound device that your doctor will press on your skin.
The Doppler device uses sound waves to produce images and lets your doctor hear your pulse in your ankle arteries after the cuff is deflated. The procedure for performing an ankle-brachial index test may vary slightly, based on your doctor’s preference.
Having an ankle-brachial index test is painless and similar to getting your blood pressure taken in a routine visit to your doctor. You may feel some pressure on your arm or ankle when the cuff inflates to read your blood pressure.
If you have symptoms of PAD, your doctor may suggest you have an exercise ankle-brachial index test to determine if your symptoms, such as leg pain with walking, are due to PAD or other conditions, such as spinal stenosis. In an exercise ankle-brachial index test, you walk on a treadmill for a short time before your ankle-brachial index is measured.
For most people, there are no physical risks involved in an ankle-brachial index test. You may feel some discomfort when the blood pressure cuffs inflate on your arm and ankle, but this discomfort is temporary and should stop when the air is released from the cuff.
If you have severe leg or arm pain, your doctor may not recommend an ankle-brachial index test. Instead of an ankle-brachial index test, your doctor may recommend a different imaging test of the arteries in your legs.