Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Appropriate Assessment and Diagnostic Tests to Determine Vascular Supply

Physical Assessment of the Lower Extremities

Dianostic Tests*

  • Intermittent claudication (calf pain)
  • Peripheral pulses
  • Colour (pallor on limb elevation, rubor on limb dependency, mottling)
  • Cool temperature
  • Ischemic pain (pain causing frequent waking at night, or needing to dangle limb for pain relief)
  • Dry gangrene
  • Hair loss, dystrophic nails (damaged or misshaped nail plates)
  • Shiny, taut, thin, dry skin
  • Ankle brachial pressure index (ABPI)
  • Toe pressures and toe brachial index
  • Arterial duplex scan
  • Transcutaneous oxygen
  • Angiography (including CT angiogram and MR angiogram)



 *Accessibility of these diagnostic tests may be limited to centres specializing in vascular surgery and wound care