• Diagnosis of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

    The most common symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD) is pain and cramping in the legs, called intermittent claudication. If your legs cramp after walking short distances, your doctor may want to look for disease in the arteries that supply your legs. The physical exam usually consists of looking at your feet and feeling for pulses in your legs and feet. Tests may include:
    • Blood tests—Your doctor will review your blood fats and/or your blood sugar. If either is elevated, it may be a treatable cause of PAD.
    • Ankle-brachial index—This is a blood pressure recordings in the legs and arms.
    • Doppler ultrasonography —This is a small device that can detect blood flow using sound waves. The test is fast, painless, and harmless.
    • Angiography —During this procedure, x-rays are taken while dye is being injected into the blood vessels. The x-rays can show blockages. This test is invasive and is usually only done in more serious cases.
    • CT angiography—This involves using CT scan technology along with angiography to show the blood vessels.
    • MRI scan —Magnetic waves are used to take images of the body.
    You will also be evaluated for accompanying problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure , and elevated levels of cholesterol and other blood fats.


    CT angiography. Vascular Web website. Available at: http://www.vascularweb.org/vascularhealth/Pages/ct-angiography.aspx . Updated September 4, 2009. Accessed September 14, 2012.

    How is peripheral artery disease diagnosed? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad/diagnosis.html . Updated April 1, 2011. Accessed September 14, 2012.

    Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of lower extremities. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated July 10, 2012. Accessed September 14, 2012.

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