Archive for the ‘Ankle Brachial Index’ Category

Ankle-Brachial Index? It’s Easier Than You Think

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Determining a patient’s ABI is a vital part of wound care, but unfortunately this step is often avoided … or even omitted. Here’s why this happens, and how you can change it.

Ankle-Brachial Index? It’s Easier Than You Think
Have you ever faced a seemingly daunting task, and so you do everything in your power to avoid it? Like renewing a driver’s license, for example. Or maybe cleaning out the refrigerator. But then once it’s done, you look back and say, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad!”

That’s kind of how it is when it comes to determining a patient’s ankle-brachial index (ABI). While this is a key component of the lower-extremity vascular exam, it’s often overlooked – and even omitted – just because it seems so overwhelming. Hang in there, folks: we’re here to help make it easier.

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What is Charcot foot?

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

What is Charcot Arthropathy? Charcot foot, as it is commonly referred to, is a chronic progressive disease of the bone and joints found in the feet and ankles of Charcot_Footour diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy.

What leads to this Charcot foot? Having long standing diabetes for greater than 10 years is one contributing factor. Having autonomic neuropathy leads to abnormal bone formation and having sensory neuropathy causes the insensate foot, or foot without sensation and thus susceptible to trauma, this is another contributing factor. These bones in the affected foot collapse and fracture becoming malformed without any major trauma. One common malformation you see related to Charcot foot is the “rocker bottom” where there is a “bulge” on the bottom of the foot where the bones have collapsed.

Your patient with Charcot foot will present with a painless, warm, reddened and swollen foot. You may see dependent rubor, bounding pedal pulses, and feel or hear crackling of the bones when moving the foot. If a patient were to continue to bear weight on the Charcot foot there is a high chance for ulceration that could potentially lead to infection and/or amputation.offloading_devices

Continued, on-going weight-bearing can result in a permanently deformed foot that is more prone to ulceration and breakdown. Prompt treatment is necessary using total contact casting, where no weight bearing will occur on the affected foot for 8-12 weeks. Our job as wound care clinicians is good foot assessment with prompt identification and treatment of this acute Charcot foot to prevent foot deformity and further complications in the diabetic patient.

 

Venous, Arterial or Mixed Ulcer…How Do I Know For Sure?

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Proper assessment is essential for differentiating between venous and arterial ulcers.

Venous, Arterial or Mixed Ulcer...How Do I Know For Sure?

 

Your patient has a lower extremity wound. You aren’t sure what exactly you are dealing with. You know you need to do that ABI to be certain, but while you are waiting to have that done some of your wound assessment findings will help clue you in as well.

Characteristics of Venous Ulcers

Let’s start with the venous ulcer, typically found on the medial lower leg, medial malleolus and superior to the medial malleolus. Seldom will you see them on the foot or above the knee. They tend to be irregular in shape, are superficial, have a red wound bed, have moderate to heavy amount of exudate and the patient may have no pain or a moderate level of pain. Surrounding skin can be warm to the touch, edematous, scaly, weepy and you may see hemosiderin staining present. Your ABI will be the definitive answer and will come back at 0.9.
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WHY ABI?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

What exactly is an ABI?  ABI stands for Ankle Brachial Index. This is a non-invasive bedside tool that compares the systolic blood pressure of the ankle to that of Doppler_BloodPressureCuffthe arm. It is done to rule out Peripheral Arterial Disease in the lower extremities. The ABI is considered the “bedside” gold standard diagnostic test and can be done by any trained clinician in a clinic, hospital, nursing home and/or even the home care setting. All you need is a blood pressure cuff and a hand held Doppler.

Why do we do the Ankle Brachial Index or ABI?  Well, there are several reasons why we include the ABI as part of our assessment for the patient with lower extremity wounds. First of all, in order to heal a wound we have to be sure that our patient has adequate blood flow. The ABI will tell us if the patient has impaired arterial blood flow, and how significant that impairment is.  We also need to know the amount of compression that we can safely apply to the venous patient, in general the lower the patients ABI reading, the lower the amount of compression that can be safely applied.

When do I need to do the ABI? Standards of care and Guidelines dictate when we should be doing the Ankle Brachial Index. Our current standard of practice states to do the ABI: Anytime a patient has a lower extremity ulcer, when foot pulses are not clearly palpable, prior to applying compression wraps / garments or when the lower extremity ulcer is no longer healing.

What does the ABI “number” mean? First we need to be aware that not everyone’s ABI is reliable, in fact patients with diabetes or end-stage renal disease may have incompressible vessels rendering a falsely high ABI score. For these patients we use another diagnostic test called the Toe Brachial toe_cuf_wound_care_education_institutePressure Index (TBPI) instead of the ABI.  For those with ABI readings, in general as the patients ABI score decreases, this signifies that the patient has arterial disease of the lower extremity, and poor blood flow. Any patient with an abnormal reading needs a referral to a vascular specialist. Bedside interpretations of the ABI that we use as wound clinicians are: 1.0 considered a normal reading, an ABI of 0.9 indicate more venous, 0.6-0.8 indicate a mixed etiology (venous and arterial) and less than or equal to 0.5 is indicative of arterial disease of the lower extremity.

We as wound care clinicians are held to certain standards of care and must follow those guidelines established by the experts.  Performing the ABI on patients before applying compression and on patients with lower extremity ulcers is one of them.  As wound clinicians we use the ABI and our clinical assessment to help guide us into determining what type of ulcer we are dealing with so we can make appropriate referrals and develop the best treatment plan for our patients. It’s a step we can’t afford to leave out; our patient’s limb may depend on it.