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Toe pressure test

What is a toe pressure test?

The test involves taking a blood pressure reading at your arms and one of your toes. In people with narrowed or blocked arteries in the legs, the blood pressure at the toes will be lower than it would be in people without arterial disease.

This test is a safe and effective way to assess if there is any disease in the arteries in your legs. This will allow the consultant to plan the appropriate treatment for you.

The test is painless and does not use any radiation or needles. There are no risks or side effects associated with this test.

Where do I go?

The Vascular Studies Unit (VSU) is on Level 5 of the Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre (ATC).

Please inform reception of your arrival straight away. There are often other clinics in progress so you may not be called in order of arrival.

You may bring a relative or friend in with you during the test or request a chaperone if you would like one.

What is consent?

Before your toe pressure test is performed you must give your consent or permission. Consent is the process by which you give permission to health professionals to provide your care and treatment. It may be implied (offering your arm for a blood pressure reading) or formal (signing a formal consent form for an operation). In either case your consent must be given voluntarily and you must have all the information you need to make a decision. If you feel you do not have enough information or do not understand the procedure please ask.

How is a toe pressure test performed?

There is no preparation required and you may eat and drink as usual prior to the test.

A clinical vascular scientist (who might be male or female) will perform and interpret your toe pressures. You will be asked to remove your shoes and socks, roll up your sleeves and lie down on the couch.

A blood pressure cuff will be put around your arms and also on one of your toes. A small amount of gel will be placed on your arm and a pencil like device called a handheld Doppler will be used to listen to the blood flow. A small circular sensor will be pressed onto your toe and this will detect blood flow.

The blood pressure cuffs will be pumped up to determine the blood pressure. This may feel tight but should not be painful.

The investigation takes approximately 30 minutes. During the test, you may hear some “swooshing” noises from the handheld Doppler. These sounds are normal.

What happens next?

The clinical vascular scientist can comment briefly on the findings and will write a report for the consultant who requested the test. You will be able to discuss the results of this investigation fully with the referring team at your next outpatient appointment.

In rare cases, the clinical vascular scientist may need to discuss the result with a doctor before you leave.

Vascular ultrasound equipment

Contract / further information

If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact the VSU on telephone: 01223 348117.

How to comment on your care

We always aim to provide the best possible service, and staff will be happy to answer your questions. However, you can also contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) with any compliments or concerns by telephone 01223 216756 or email

Contacts / further information

If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Vascular Studies Unit (VSU) on telephone: 01223 348117.