Toe pressure

Last updated
Toe pressure
Purposeassessment of severe peripheral artery disease,

Blood pressure in toes can be measured using special equipment, and is often valuable in assessment of severe peripheral artery disease, in particular in patients with diabetes where measurement of ankle pressure / ABPI is often unreliable (because of local stiffening of arterial wall).



Feet are often cold and to make sure measurement is not affected by local vasoconstriction, the patient's feet may be pre-warmed in water or by warm air to a skin temperature of around 30 °C. Measurement is done with the patient lying flat, with feet at heart level, using sphygmomanometry: the big toe is slightly emptied of blood by squeezing, and a small cuff is inflated around the base of the toe. Cuff pressure is then slowly lowered until flow can be detected in the distal part of the toe, e.g. by optical means (photocell), by expansion of the toe as measured with strain gauge plethysmography, or by visual assessment of color change by an experienced examiner, and the pressure at which this occurs is recorded.

Interpretation of results

The toe pressure is usually slightly lower than arm blood pressure, a difference of up to 50mmHg is considered acceptable. Toe pressures below 30 mmHg (in diabetics 50mmHg) are pathological and associated with reduced viability of the tissue and risk of amputation.

Related Research Articles

Blood pressure Pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels

Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of blood vessels. Most of this pressure results from the heart pumping blood through the circulatory system. When used without qualification, the term "blood pressure" refers to the pressure in the large arteries. Blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over diastolic pressure in the cardiac cycle. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) above the surrounding atmospheric pressure.

Hypertension Long term high blood pressure in the arteries

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a long-term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure typically does not cause symptoms. Long-term high blood pressure, however, is a major risk factor for stroke, coronary artery disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, peripheral arterial disease, vision loss, chronic kidney disease, and dementia.

Hemodynamics or haemodynamics are the dynamics of blood flow. The circulatory system is controlled by homeostatic mechanisms of autoregulation, just as hydraulic circuits are controlled by control systems. The haemodynamic response continuously monitors and adjusts to conditions in the body and its environment. Thus, haemodynamics explains the physical laws that govern the flow of blood in the blood vessels.

Arterial blood gas test A test of blood taken from an artery that measures the amounts of certain dissolved gases

An arterial blood gas (ABG) test measures the amounts of arterial gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. An ABG test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the radial artery with a syringe and a thin needle, but sometimes the femoral artery in the groin or another site is used. The blood can also be drawn from an arterial catheter.

Sphygmomanometer Instrument for measuring blood pressure

A sphygmomanometer, also known as a blood pressure monitor, or blood pressure gauge, is a device used to measure blood pressure, composed of an inflatable cuff to collapse and then release the artery under the cuff in a controlled manner, and a mercury or aneroid manometer to measure the pressure. Manual sphygmomanometers are used with a stethoscope when using the auscultatory technique.

Peripheral artery disease Medical condition

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is an abnormal narrowing of arteries other than those that supply the heart or brain. When narrowing occurs in the heart, it is called coronary artery disease, and in the brain, it is called cerebrovascular disease. Peripheral artery disease most commonly affects the legs, but other arteries may also be involved – such as those of the arms, neck, or kidneys. The classic symptom is leg pain when walking which resolves with rest, known as intermittent claudication. Other symptoms include skin ulcers, bluish skin, cold skin, or abnormal nail and hair growth in the affected leg. Complications may include an infection or tissue death which may require amputation; coronary artery disease, or stroke. Up to 50% of people with PAD do not have symptoms.

Hypotension Abnormally low blood pressure

Hypotension is low blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. Blood pressure is indicated by two numbers, the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure, which are the maximum and minimum blood pressures, respectively. A systolic blood pressure of less than 90 millimeters of mercury or diastolic of less than 60 mm Hg is generally considered to be hypotension. Different numbers apply to children. However, in practice, blood pressure is considered too low only if noticeable symptoms are present.

Pulse pressure is the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure.It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). It represents the force that the heart generates each time it contracts. Resting blood pressure is normally approximately 120/80 mmHg, which yields a pulse pressure of approximately 40 mmHg.

Photoplethysmogram Optically obtained plethysmogram that can be used to detect blood volume changes in the microvascular bed of tissue.

A photoplethysmogram (PPG) is an optically obtained plethysmogram that can be used to detect blood volume changes in the microvascular bed of tissue. A PPG is often obtained by using a pulse oximeter which illuminates the skin and measures changes in light absorption. A conventional pulse oximeter monitors the perfusion of blood to the dermis and subcutaneous tissue of the skin.

Vital signs Group of the 4-6 important medical signs that indicate the status of the body’s vital functions

Vital signs are a group of the four to six most important medical signs that indicate the status of the body’s vital (life-sustaining) functions. These measurements are taken to help assess the general physical health of a person, give clues to possible diseases, and show progress toward recovery. The normal ranges for a person’s vital signs vary with age, weight, gender, and overall health.

Ankle–brachial pressure index The ratio of the blood pressure at the ankle to the blood pressure in the upper arm

The ankle-brachial pressure index (ABPI) or ankle-brachial index (ABI) is the ratio of the blood pressure at the ankle to the blood pressure in the upper arm (brachium). Compared to the arm, lower blood pressure in the leg suggests blocked arteries due to peripheral artery disease (PAD). The ABPI is calculated by dividing the systolic blood pressure at the ankle by the systolic blood pressure in the arm.

Hypertensive emergency Condition of markedly elevated blood pressure with diastolic pressure typically greater than 120 mm Hg

A hypertensive emergency is high blood pressure with potentially life-threatening symptoms and signs indicative of acute impairment of one or more organ systems. Hypertensive urgency is defined as having a systolic blood pressure over 180 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure over 110 mmHg. Hypertensive emergency is defined as elevated blood pressure consistent with hypertensive urgency, plus evidence of impending irreversible hypertension-mediated organ damage (HMOD). Signs of organ damage will be discussed below.

A peripheral vascular examination is a medical examination to discover signs of pathology in the peripheral vascular system. It is performed as part of a physical examination, or when a patient presents with leg pain suggestive of a cardiovascular pathology.

Compression stockings Compression garment

Compression stockings are a specialized hosiery designed to help prevent the occurrence of, and guard against further progression of, venous disorders such as edema, phlebitis and thrombosis. Compression stockings are elastic compression garments worn around the leg, compressing the limb. This reduces the diameter of distended veins and increases venous blood flow velocity and valve effectiveness. Compression therapy helps decrease venous pressure, prevents venous stasis and impairments of venous walls, and relieves heavy and aching legs.

The cardiovascular examination is a portion of the physical examination that involves evaluation of the cardiovascular system. The exact contents of the examination will vary depending on the presenting complaint but a complete examination will involve the heart, lungs, belly and the blood vessels.

Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) is one of the major causes of secondary brain ischemia that accompanies a variety of pathological conditions, most notably traumatic brain injury (TBI), strokes, and intracranial hemorrhages. It can cause complications such as vision impairment due to intracranial pressure (VIIP), permanent neurological problems, reversible neurological problems, seizures, stroke, and death. However, aside from a few Level I trauma centers, ICP monitoring is rarely a part of the clinical management of patients with these conditions. The infrequency of ICP can be attributed to the invasive nature of the standard monitoring methods. Additional risks presented to patients can include high costs associated with an ICP sensor's implantation procedure, and the limited access to trained personnel, e.g. a neurosurgeon. Alternative, non-invasive measurement of intracranial pressure, non-invasive methods for estimating ICP have, as a result, been sought.

Continuous noninvasive arterial pressure (CNAP) is the method of measuring arterial blood pressure in real-time without any interruptions (continuously) and without cannulating the human body (noninvasive).

The article reviews the evolution of continuous noninvasive arterial pressure measurement (CNAP). The historical gap between ease of use, but intermittent upper arm instruments and bulky, but continuous “pulse writers” (sphygmographs) is discussed starting with the first efforts to measure pulse, published by Jules Harrison in 1835. Such sphygmographs led a shadowy existence in the past, while Riva Rocci's upper arm blood pressure measurement started its triumphant success over 100 years ago. In recent times, CNAP measurement introduced by Jan Penáz in 1973 enabled the first recording of noninvasive beat-to-beat blood pressure resulting in marketed products such as the Finapres™ device and its successors. Recently, a novel method for CNAP monitoring has been designed for patient monitoring in perioperative, critical and emergency care, where blood pressure needs to be measured repeatedly or even continuously to facilitate the best care for patients.

Chronic limb threatening ischemia (CLTI), also known as critical limb ischemia (CLI), is an advanced stage of peripheral artery disease (PAD). It is defined as ischemic rest pain, arterial insufficiency ulcers, and gangrene. The latter two conditions are jointly referred to as tissue loss, reflecting the development of surface damage to the limb tissue due to the most severe stage of ischemia. Compared to the other manifestation of PAD, intermittent claudication, CLI has a negative prognosis within a year after the initial diagnosis, with 1-year amputation rates of approximately 12% and mortality of 50% at 5 years and 70% at 10 years.

Blood pressure measurement

Arterial blood pressure is most commonly measured via a sphygmomanometer, which historically used the height of a column of mercury to reflect the circulating pressure. Blood pressure values are generally reported in millimetres of mercury (mmHg), though aneroid and electronic devices do not contain mercury.