Measurement of Toe-Brachial Indices in people with subnormal toe pressures: Complexities and revelations

Sylvia McAra, Robert Trevethan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Insufficient information exists about the nature of toe-brachial indices (TBIs) and how best to obtain them, yet their validity may be particularly important for the identification and management of peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular disease risk. We explore ways in which valid TBI measurements might be obtained.

Methods: The TBI data were recorded from 97 people with subnormal toe pressures. Most people provided three TBI readings from each foot on six different occasions over a 6-month period. The foot with the lower baseline TBI was noted.

Results: For most people, only small inconsistencies existed among the three readings taken from each foot on a single occasion, and there were no consistent differences based on sequence. However, for some people there were noticeable and unsystematic differences among the measures. Selecting any specific one of the three readings based on its sequential position, or averaging specific readings, did not yield TBIs that were unequivocally typical for a person, and taking the lowest reading of each set seemed to offer the most expedient solution in this context. That permitted baseline descriptive statistics to be produced for both the higher and lower pressure feet, between which there was a statistically significant TBI difference.

Conclusions: Accurate and consistent TBI readings cannot be assumed for people with subnormal toe pressures, and taking only a single reading or indiscriminately averaging readings seems inadvisable. Two readings and, if they are discrepant, additional readings, are recommended for each foot, ideally on several occasions, and careful consideration should be given to determine the most representative reading for each foot. Cuff sizes and other sources of inaccuracy or distortion should not be ignored, and standardized protocols for obtaining TBIs are recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Podiatric Medical Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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