Pulse Volume Recordings / Segmental Pressures

What are pulse volume recordings (PVR)?

If you have symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), also called peripheral vascular disease (PVD), your doctor may suggest plethysmography, or pulse volume recordings (PVR), to help determine whether you have PAD/PVD, where your circulation is most affected, and how severe your condition is.

What happens during a pulse volume recording?

PVR, also known as a segmental pressure study, is a non-invasive vascular test involving use of blood pressure cuffs on your thighs, calves and ankles, and also on your arms. The cuffs are inflated to compare the blood pressure in your legs to that of your arms. The person performing the test will also use a Doppler ultrasound to listen to the blood flowing through your body. If your arteries are functioning well, your blood pressure will be about the same in your legs as in your arms. If the blood pressure in your legs is lower than in your arms, it may be a sign of narrowed arteries due to cholesterol buildup in the arterial walls.

Normal blood pressure results may indicate need for further testing

If your blood pressure is normal in both places, you may need an additional exercise testing PVR to see how your blood pressure responds when you’re physically active or thoracic outlet testing PVR, which is done with cuffs on your upper arms and blood pressure measurements taken while your arms are in different positions.

Depending on the results of your PVR, your doctor may order additional tests such as CT angiography or magnetic resonance angiography.