Assessment of blood pressure in the legs is a basic element of vascular testing. This confirms adequate blood pressure to the legs, feet, and toes. During the physiologic examination, your doctor will look for reduced blood pressure at various segments in the legs that may cause pain while walking or ulcers on the foot or ankles. These are all findings that indicate peripheral artery disease.

How testing is done

The test is painless and normally performed on an outpatient basis. During the test:

  • You will lie quietly on the exam table for a short period of time to allow your blood pressure to stabilize.
  • Blood pressure cuffs are wrapped around your upper arms and your legs at various segments. The cuffs are spaced evenly and are generally applied to your thigh, calf, ankle, and toe.
  • An ultrasound probe will be used on your arm and ankle to listen for the maximum blood pressure during blood pressure cuff inflation.
  • For some patients, this blood pressure testing is completed before and after a brief walk on a treadmill to assess dynamic changes in blood flow related to exercise.