Ankle-Brachial Index

What is an ABI?

The ankle-brachial index (ABI) test is a quick, non-invasive way to check your risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD) in your arms and legs. Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which the arteries in your legs or arms are narrowed or blocked. People with peripheral artery disease are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, poor circulation and leg pain.

The ankle-brachial index test compares your blood pressure measured at your ankle with your blood pressure measured at your arm. A low ankle-brachial index number can indicate narrowing or blockage of the arteries in your legs, increasing your risk of circulatory problems, and possibly causing heart disease or stroke.


There are no physical risks involved in an ankle-brachial index test. You may feel some discomfort when the blood pressure cuffs inflate on your arm and ankle, but this discomfort is temporary and should stop when the air is released from the blood pressure cuff.

How to prepare

You won't need to follow any special instructions before your appointment to have an ankle-brachial index test performed. You may want to wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows the technician performing your ankle-brachial index test to easily place a blood pressure cuff on your ankles and arms.

What to expect

You lie on a table on your back, and a technician measures your blood pressure in both your arms using a blood pressure cuff. Then, the technician measures the blood pressure in the arteries of both your ankles, using the inflatable cuff and a hand-held Doppler ultrasound device that will pressed on your skin.

Having an ankle-brachial index test is painless and similar to getting your blood pressure taken by your doctor. You may feel some pressure on your arm or ankle when the cuff inflates to read your blood pressure


The Radiologist views and interprets the results and will send a final report to your doctor, who will then explain the results to you.

Wednesday the 5th. Copyright 2012, Three Rivers Hospital