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The ankle-brachial index test is a painless exam that is used to diagnose peripheral arterial disease. The ankle-brachial index test compares blood flow in the ankles and arms, detecting poor circulation that can be caused by fatty plaque buildup. During the ankle-brachial index test, inflatable cuffs are used on your arms and ankles to measure your blood pressure. Once the cuffs are deflated, a Doppler ultrasound is also used on your ankle to listen to your arteries. To determine the ankle-brachial index, the systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) of the ankle is divided by the systolic blood pressure of the arm. The simple ankle-brachial index test takes less than 15 minutes to perform at a physician’s office.
No special preparation is necessary for the ankle-brachial index test.
The ankle-brachial index test is painless and noninvasive, although you might feel slight pressure when the cuffs are inflated. You will lie down on the exam table and blood pressure cuffs will be attached to your arms and legs. Stay still, breathe normally and relax. The ankle-brachial index test usually lasts about 15 minutes or less.
Your physician will give you the ankle-brachial index test results and discuss the appropriate next steps. Your results will fall into one of the following categories:
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