What is an ABI?
Ankle Brachial Index Tests are used to test circulation in your arms and legs. If your heart is healthy and your arteries are clear, then the pulse in your fingers and toes will be strong. If one of your limbs shows a weaker pulse, it may contain arteries that have been blocked by plaque.
The test uses a needle-free sensor that clips to your fingers and toes like a clothespin. The doctor will test a finger and a toe on each hand. Then you’ll do some minor exercise, like flutter kicks, and the doctor will repeat the test.
Why do I need an ABI Test?
This easy, fast, and non-invasive test is the first line of defense against Peripheral Artery Disease. If you cannot walk ten blocks without stopping, the cause may be PAD. You doctor needs more information to confirm a PAD diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan.
Symptoms you may be developing Peripheral Artery Disease include:
Discomfort in the limb, especially as a result of walking. Discomfort may be described as:
- limb falls asleep; numbness, tingling, “pins-and-needles”
- limb feels heavy
- feeling of cold in the limb, or the limb is cold to the touch
- pain; throbbing, stinging, or aching
Change in skin’s appearance. You may see:
- blue, purple, or black spots on the skin
- spots that are darker than most of your skin
- skin that looks glossy or shiny (without the use of lotion)
- nails that grow slowly or have stopped growing
- patches of body hair which grow slowly or have stopped growing
- wounds that do not heal in a week or two
The sensors used for ABI testing are very similar to the technology in the screen of a smart phone. ABI testing does not require the use of needles, radioactive tracers, or anything else that may cause pain or damage to the body.
Because the test must be completed both before and after exercising, an ABI test can take between 10 and 30 minutes. You’ll have to remove your shoes and socks.