Frequently Asked Questions About Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Q. If the patient has blood clots in his or her legs can they still have an ABI done?

A. If the patient has a note from his or her physician stating that they have no clots in
their legs currently, then we can do the study.  Otherwise, we cannot.

Q. If the patient has had a mastectomy can they have an ABI done?
A. Yes.  We take the pressure in the other arm and use that to formulate a ratio.  When a
patient has had breast surgery, usually lymph nodes under the arm are removed as well.  
Compression of the lymph system of the arm can lead to painful swelling for a long time.

Q. What does it mean if the arteries do not compress?

A. This is most commonly seen in diabetics.  However, it may happen in others.  
Non-compressibility is due to vascular disease of the walls of the vessels.  Therefore, the
patient receives an abnormal reading.

Q. If the patient already knows they have coronary artery (heart) disease, should
they still have the ABI study?
A. Yes.  This is a very good reason to have the test done.  The correlation between
coronary arteries goes both ways.  People who have an abnormal ABI are 3-5 times more
likely to have coronary artery disease.  People who have heart disease are at higher risk
for peripheral arterial disease as well.

Q. Does a lower ratio (.32) mean more severe arterial disease than a higher (.75)
abnormal ratio?

A. Yes.  The lower the ratio the more severe the arterial disease.

Q. Can we tell if there is a problem with venous disease (deep venous thrombosis,
phlebitis, varicose veins) with the ABI?

A. Absolutely not.  The ABI is for peripheral arterial disease only.  We do not do venous
FAQs: Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
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