The ankle-brachial index, or ABI, is a measurement of blood flow
in your leg arteries.
Hardening of the arteries can cause a narrowing or blockage of
the leg arteries. This is also known as peripheral
arterial disease (PAD).
affects between 8 and 12 million Americans. Symptoms of PAD may include a
discomfort in muscles of the calves, thighs or buttocks that comes
on with walking (claudication) and goes away after a few minutes
More severe cases of poor circulation may even lead to
amputation (removal of a leg or foot) and death because of the lack
of circulation through the legs.
Sometimes, PAD can decrease leg
blood flow without causing any symptoms at all. The ABI is the safest and most
reliable test to find PAD.
The entire ankle-brachial index (ABI) procedure takes about 20
to 30 minutes.
Your primary health care provider will give you the results of
The ankle-brachial index (ABI) will only help your health care
provider confirm peripheral arterial disease (PAD). It does not cure
your circulation problems. The test results give your health care
provider information about the flow of blood through your arteries.
Together you and your health care provider can decide how to
improve your circulation problems.
If you have decreased blood flow through your arteries, your
health care provider can suggest things you can do to improve your
circulation, such as quitting smoking or increasing your exercise. You may need to have a
non-surgical or surgical procedure to improve your circulation.
Your health care provider will give you with more information about
your condition and discuss your options for treatment.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI), cs-ahc-14379 (03/09)
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts