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Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2006 Mar;31(3):253-7. Epub 2005 Nov 16.

'Pole test' measurements in critical leg ischaemia.

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Department of Vascular Surgery, La Timone Hospital, Marseille, France.



For the quantification of critical limb ischaemia (CLI) most vascular surgery units use sphygmo-manometric and transcutaneous oxygen pressure (TcPO2) measurements. However, measurements obtained by cuff-manometry can be overestimated especially in diabetic patients because of medial calcification that makes leg arteries less compressible. TcPO2 measurements present a considerable overlap in the values obtained for patients with different degrees of ischaemia and its reproducibility has been questioned. Arterial wall stiffness has less influence on the pole test, based on hydrostatic pressure derived by leg elevation, and this test seems to provide a reliable index of CLI.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the pole pressure test for detection of critical lower limb ischaemia, correlating results with cuff-manometry and transcutaneous oxygen pressure.


University hospital-prospective study.


Seventy-four patients (83 legs) with rest pain or gangrene were evaluated by four methods: pole test, cuff-manometry, TcPO2 and arteriography. CLI was present if the following criteria were met: (a) important arteriographic lesions+rest pain with an ankle systolic pressure (ASP) < or = 40 mmHg and/or a TcPO2 < or = 30 mmHg, or (b) important arteriographic lesions+tissue loss with an ASP < or = 60 mmHg and/or a TcPO2 < or = 40 mmHg. Fifty-seven lower limbs met the criteria for CLI.


Measurements obtained by cuff-manometry were significantly higher to those obtained by pole test (mean pressure difference: 40 mmHg, p<0.001). The difference between the two methods remained statistically significant for both diabetics (50.73, p<0.001) and non-diabetics (31.46, p<0.001). Mean TcPO2 value was 15.51 mmHg and there was no important difference between patients with and without diabetes. Overall, there was a correlation between sphygmomanometry and pole test (r = 0.481). The correlation persisted for patients without diabetes (r = 0.581), but was not evident in patients with diabetes. Correlation between pole test and TcPO2 was observed only for patients with diabetes (r = 0.444). There was no correlation between cuff-manometry and TcPO2. The pole test offered an accuracy of 88% for the detection of CLI. The sensitivity of this test was 95% and the specificity 73%.

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