Be Proactive in Maintaining Good Vascular Health
Diagnostic tests are performed to alert the patient of a condition or disorder that may threaten their livelihood and wellbeing. Previously, these tests were only performed when the patient has a complaint that could indicate the presence of an abnormal condition. Today, we understand that these conditions need to be found earlier when preventive therapies can be enacted, lessening the chance of complications. Diagnostic tests are simple, offer little–if any–threat to the patient, and reveal with great accuracy whether any abnormal condition exists.
Diagnostic Tests to Determine if You Have a Vascular Disease
Your doctor may select any number of diagnostic tests to gain some insight into how to best treat you. These tests include:
Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)
The quickest test is called an ankle-brachial index (ABI). This test is the quickest available test, though it may not provide as much detailed insight as others. It compares the blood pressure in your arm to the blood pressure in one of two blood vessels in the ankle or foot. The blood pressures should be the same, but if a blood vessel is blocked, then the blood pressure may be significantly lower in the foot. This test is easy to perform, but unfortunately only identifies one out of every three patients with significant blood vessel obstruction.
A more revealing vascular test is that of the doppler ultrasound. This test uses sound waves which allow the technician to see the blood vessels and measure the speed of the blood flow. It is also possible to see their size and offers some information on whether or not the walls of the blood vessels are normal. The sound waves present no known threat to the patient and only require that a gel be used between the device and the patient’s skin to allow better sound wave transmission to the tissue.
Skin Perfusion Testing
A screening test which offers the greatest degree of information on your vascular health is called Skin Perfusion Testing. In this test, a low power laser is used to measure the blood pressure in the skin. Typically, a cuff is inflated in the region of the sensor and slowly released. If the blood flow to the area is normal, then the flow returns quickly. When the arteries are blocked, then the blood does not return quickly to the skin. This test is very sensitive, therefore providing us with greater accuracy in determining who will have troubles with their legs or arms. The test takes a bit longer than most ultrasounds, but it yields important information about which blood vessels may be blocked that other screening tests do not provide.