pulse volume recordings

What is a pulse volume recording (PVR) study?

A PVR study is a noninvasive vascular test in which blood pressure cuffs and a hand-held ultrasound device (called a Doppler or transducer) are used to obtain information about arterial blood flow in the arms and legs. Noninvasive means the procedure does not require the use of needles, dyes, radiation or anesthesia. The blood pressure cuffs and Doppler are used to determine the presence, severity and general location of peripheral arterial occlusive disease.

A PVR may also be called a vascular study or Doppler segmental pressure study.

Types of PVRs

There are several types of PVRs, including:

Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

The ABI is a measurement of the blood pressure in the lower leg compared to the blood pressure in the arm. Your physician will compare the two numbers to determine your ABI. Normally, the blood pressures in your ankle and arm should be about equal. But if your ankle pressure is half your arm pressure (or lower), it could be a sign that your leg arteries are narrowed.

The blood pressure cuffs are placed on the arm and leg and inflated, while the Doppler is used to listen to the blood flow in the leg and arm. The ABI helps your physician diagnose arterial disease in the legs, but it does not identify which arteries are blocked.

Exercise Testing PVR

During the exercise testing PVR, the patient walks on a treadmill to try to reproduce the symptoms he or she has experienced. Then, the blood pressure cuffs are placed on the patient’s arms, legs, thighs, ankles, calves and feet. The blood pressures are measured again to determine the location of the potential blockage or narrowed area.

Thoracic Outlet Testing

During thoracic outlet testing, blood pressure cuffs are placed on the patient’s upper arms. The test is performed while the patient is sitting in a chair. The technologist will move the patient’s arms in different positions and take a blood pressure measurement at each position.

Why do I need this test?

Your physician has recommended that you have this test to evaluate the blood flow in your arms and legs. This test is used to evaluate the presence of peripheral arterial disease.

How long is the test?

The test takes 30 to 90 minutes to complete. Please plan to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment to complete the registration process.

Reviewed: 04/13

This information is about testing and procedures and may include instructions specific to Cleveland Clinic.
Please consult your physician for information pertaining to your testing.