Limb Plethysmography

Written by Gretchen Holm | Published on June 1, 2012
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD

What Is a Limb Plethysmography?

Limb plethysmography is a test that is typically performed if a doctor suspects blockage or narrowing in your blood vessels. A different test, called an arteriography, is more accurate for this purpose. However, a limb plethysmography has several advantages over an arteriography.

A limb plethysmography can be done on patients who are too ill to travel to a lab. It also costs significantly less than an arteriography. Finally, it does not involve X-rays or contrast dye. This eliminates the risks of radiation exposure and allergic reactions to the dye. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a limb plethysmography has no risks at all (NIH, 2012).

How Is a Limb Plethysmography Performed?

Avoid smoking for at least 30 minutes before the test.

You must remove all clothing from the arm and leg that will be tested. A doctor will instruct you to lie down while remaining partially propped up.

The doctor will put blood pressure cuffs around your arm and leg. He or she will then inflate these cuffs. Next, your doctor will measure the pulses from the cuffs.

By comparing the results, your doctor can tell whether there is a significant difference between the blood pressure in your arm and your leg.

What Do Limb Plethysmography Results Mean?

The difference between the systolic blood pressure measurements in your arm and leg should be less than 20 mm Hg. An mm Hg is a unit of pressure.

Abnormal results may indicate any of the following:

  • arterial occlusive disease
  • blood clots
  • deep venous thrombosis
  • diabetes-related blood vessel changes
  • injury to an artery
  • vascular disease
Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.

Article Sources:

More on Healthline

Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD
Leading a healthy lifestyle can make a big difference in your COPD symptoms. Learn more about basic changes that will make it easier to manage your COPD.
Easy Ways to Conceal an Epinephrine Shot
Easy Ways to Conceal an Epinephrine Shot
Learn how to discreetly carry your epinephrine autoinjectors safely and discreetly. It’s easier than you think to keep your shots on hand when you’re on the go.
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Learn about some of the most common triggers for asthma, as well as measures you can take to minimize your risk of exposure, symptoms, and flares.
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
Timeline of an Anaphylactic Reaction
From first exposure to life-threatening complications, learn how quickly an allergy attack can escalate and why it can become life threatening.
Seasonal Allergies and COPD: Tips to Avoid Complications
Seasonal Allergies and COPD: Tips to Avoid Complications
For COPD patients, allergies pose the risk of serious complications. Learn some basic tips for avoiding allergy-related complications of COPD in this slideshow.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement