Forty-eight patients (20 diabetic, 28 nondiabetic) with angiographically confirmed peripheral vascular disease (PVD) were examined to discover whether the measurement of pulse reappearance time (PRT) during reactive hyperemia is a more useful method than the measurement of peripheral systolic blood pressure (ankle pressure index; API) for making a specific diagnosis of PVD. Specific diagnosis refers to the degree and localization of occlusive atherosclerosis determined by Doppler ultrasound techniques for both measurements. We found that PRT and API both provided accurate qualitative proof of a peripheral blood flow deficit in diabetic and nondiabetic subjects. However, in relation to the angiographically defined degree and localization of sclerotic lesions, there were significant differences. The sclerotic degree of occlusive PVD in diabetic subjects was correlated with the results of the PRT (P < .001), whereas the API was not (P > .05). The occlusion localization could only be distinguished by PRT measurements in both diabetic and nondiabetic subjects. Compared with control subjects (4.1 s) the half-maximum PRT of blood flow velocity was delayed in stenotic PVD to 5.7 s, in occlusive PVD of the upper leg to 14.3 s, in occlusive PVD of the lower leg to 29.6 s, and in multilevel disease to 45.0 s (P < .0005 vs. control). The results show that Doppler sonographic measurement of the peripheral systolic blood pressure is only useful for an overall diagnosis of PVD in diabetic subjects, whereas PRT measurement, by quantifying the degree and localization of sclerotic lesions, can be used additionally either to confirm or to specify this diagnosis.

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