Peripheral Vascular (PVS) Examination

The peripheral vascular examination is performed to elicit signs of peripheral vascular pathology i.e. examining the blood vessels in the extremities.  Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a common reason for referral to the vascular clinics, conditions include intermittent claudication and in emergency situations ischaemia of the limbs.

Like most examination stations this follows the usual procedure of inspect, palpate, auscultate (look, feel, listen).

Subject steps

  1. Perform a general observation of the patient, noting whether they are comfortable at rest as well as their general well-being. Comment on the general appearance of the legs, including any obvious abnormalities such as muscle wasting or scars.

    Furthermore, note any appliances or medications which may be positioned around the bed.

  2. Any varicosities which you noted in the observation should now be palpated. If these are hard to the touch, or painful when touched, it may suggest thrombophlebitis.

  3. Check for radio-femoral delay by palpating both the radial and femoral pulses on one side of the body at the same time. The pulsation should occur at the same time, any delay may suggest coarctation of the aorta.

  4. On completion, thank the patient for their time and ensure they are comfortable and well-covered. Remember to wash your hands and report your findings to the examiner.