1062 Barnes Rd., Suite 300 Wallingford, CT 06492 Phone: (203) 265-9831       Fax: (203) 265-2977

Ankle Brachial Index Test (ABI)

An Ankle Brachial Index Test, or "ABI", is one type of test used to detect the presence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or to follow it's progression.  PAD is the development of reduced blood flow through the leg arteries due to plaque development.

During this test you will recline comfortably on an exam table.  A specially trained technologist will place blood pressure cuffs on both arms, and at several sites on both legs.  The cuffs will be inflated one by one, and pressures and waveforms will be obtained using a special machine.  The test will be interpreted by a cardiovascular specialist to determine if blood flow to the legs is less than normal.  If a blockage is detected, the specialist will try to determine which artery is involved, and if the degree of PAD is serious.

Sometimes, after these resting measurements are obtained, you may be asked to walk briefly and comfortably for 1 to 5 minutes on a treadmill.  Some of the measurements will be repeated immediately after the exercise to determine if there is a pressure drop post exercise.  This part of the test is eliminated if you cannot walk well on a treadmill.

Overall, the test is very comfortable for patients, and gives your doctor valuable information to aid in your healthcare.

Some common reasons for performing this test include:

  • Leg discomfort when walking or exerting oneself
  • Leg cramping at night
  • Difficulty healing cuts and scrapes on the feet, ankles or lower legs, or the development of ulcers in these same areas 
  • Reduced pulses in the leg(s) during a physical exam
  • History of arterial disease elsewhere in the body, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), or cerebrovascular disease (CVD) or stroke

There is no special preparation for this test.  If at all possible, wear or bring a pair of light shorts; patients are more comfortable during this test wearing shorts rather than a standard patient gown.  Please bring your insurance card and co-pay (if any) to your appointment.

We hope this has been helpful, but if you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to call our office at (203)265-9831 and ask for the Testing Department.