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Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) Screening

Peripheral vascular disease is caused by atherosclerosis, which causes a build-up of a sticky substance called plaque inside the arteries of the lower extremities. This build-up of plaque decreases the blood flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and tissues of the legs and feet (this is called ischemia). Emory Decatur Hospital and Emory Hillandale Hospital can help diagnose and prevent peripheral vascular disease by offering Atlanta-based PVD screening, as well as a host of other vascular screening services.

Signs and symptoms of peripheral vascular disease may include:

  • Intermittent Claudication – This is a cramping pain in the muscles of the buttocks and/or the legs that occurs with walking and exercise. The pain decreases with rest.
  • Pain at Rest - As peripheral vascular disease progresses, pain occurs at rest, and is often located on the top of the foot and across the toes. The pain decreases when the legs are lowered and blood flow increases to the foot.
  • Tissue Breakdown and Gangrene - As PVD progresses further, the skin begins to break down and ulcers can develop. When tissues are unable to obtain the circulation required for growth and repair, gangrene (death of the tissue) can occur. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor immediately and obtain PVD screening.

Other possible signs and symptoms of peripheral vascular disease include:

  • Decreased hair growth on feet/legs
  • Paleness of the leg or foot when elevated
  • Discoloration of the foot/leg when hanging down
  • Decreased ability to spread toes and move feet
  • Absence of pulses in the feet
  • Coolness of the foot/leg
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Dry and/or scaly leg skin
  • Leg ulcers
  • Poorly healing leg skin rash

If you are experiencing any or all of these peripheral vascular disease symptoms, visit our Heart and Vascular Institute. We provide PVD screening and can help you determine your risk factors for vascular disease.

PVD Screening: Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI)

Emory Decatur Hospital and Emory Hillandale Hospital’s Atlanta-based PVD screening is painless, quick and non-invasive. It can identify most causes of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), more commonly known as hardening of the arteries. We screen this disease by using the ankle-brachial index (ABI).

What Can I Learn From This Test?

During PVD screening, the ABI measures the ratio between the pressure in your arms and the pressure in your legs. This ratio indicates how well blood flows to the legs. A ratio of less than 0.90 indicates plaque build-up and possible peripheral vascular disease. A ratio of 0.90 or greater is considered normal. Learn more about identifying signs of vascular disease.

How Is the Test Performed?

PVD screening is simple. After removing your socks and shoes, you will have pressure cuffs placed around your upper-arms and ankles. A small ultrasound device will then measure the systolic blood pressure in your limbs.

Who Should Have the Test?

Any individual experiencing risk factors for peripheral vascular disease should have PVD screening performed.

How Often Should I Get Screened?

This is a personal decision, based on your peripheral vascular disease risk factors and previous PVD screening results. Many individuals have an annual screening as part of their regular healthcare regimen.

How Do I Prepare for the Test?

  • Wear a short-sleeved shirt or blouse.
  • Do not wear pantyhose.

About Your Results

Your PVD screening will be reviewed by one of our board-certified physicians and discussed with you the same day of your screening. Your primary care physician will receive a detailed report of your results in the mail.

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