How is peripheral vascular disease (PVD) diagnosed?

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Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is diagnosed by a history and physical examination. Watch Gabriel Bietz, MD, with Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, talk about the process of these examinations and how they can detect disease.
Frank J. Arena, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Diagnosing peripheral vascular disease (PVD) starts with a physical exam by a cardiologist. It may also include some imaging tests such as computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), ultrasound or angiogram.
If you are having any specific symptoms, or if there is something abnormal on physical exam, an ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), or computerized tomography (CT) scan can be performed to diagnose peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
To confirm that you have peripheral vascular disease (PVD), your doctor can do several quick, painless tests. The most common tests are the ankle-brachial index (ABI) test and the Doppler ultrasound. Generally, you don’t need to prepare beforehand, and they usually take less than an hour.
Alternative tests include an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or an angiogram.
You’ll get the results in a follow-up appointment.
Justin P. Levisay, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
There are multiple ways to diagnose peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Often, PVD can be easily diagnosed on the basis of a physical examination. Also, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or PVD can be diagnosed by a non-invasive ultrasound. More recently, imaging with CT scans and magnetic resonance angiograms have begun to provide fantastic non-invasive imaging of arteries and veins. Invasive diagnosis is usually the last imaging test to be performed.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.