Peripheral vascular disease assessment in the lower limb: a review of current and emerging non-invasive diagnostic methods

Biomed Eng Online. 2018 May 11;17(1):61. doi: 10.1186/s12938-018-0494-4.


Background: Worldwide, at least 200 million people are affected by peripheral vascular diseases (PVDs), including peripheral arterial disease (PAD), chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The high prevalence and serious consequences of PVDs have led to the development of several diagnostic tools and clinical guidelines to assist timely diagnosis and patient management. Given the increasing number of diagnostic methods available, a comprehensive review of available technologies is timely in order to understand their limitations and direct future development effort.

Main body: This paper reviews the available diagnostic methods for PAD, CVI, and DVT with a focus on non-invasive modalities. Each method is critically evaluated in terms of sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, ease of use, procedure time duration, and training requirements where applicable.

Conclusion: This review emphasizes the limitations of existing methods, highlighting a latent need for the development of new non-invasive, efficient diagnostic methods. Some newly emerging technologies are identified, in particular wearable sensors, which demonstrate considerable potential to address the need for simple, cost-effective, accurate and timely diagnosis of PVDs.

Keywords: Ankle Brachial Index; Chronic venous insufficiency; Deep vein thrombosis; Doppler ultrasound; Peripheral arterial disease; Plethysmography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure Monitors
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Plethysmography
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler