Measuring Blood Pressure When Patient Does Not Have Arms

Question

Asked by dtecumseh@yahoo.com

Measuring Blood Pressure When Patient Does Not Have Arms

I am wondering what is the correct method to use when measuring blood pressure on a patient that does not have arms? How does the reading vary from the numbers you would normally get when taking the blood pressure in the arms?

Answer

dtecumseh@yahoo.com

Thanks for your question.

Blood pressure can also be taken in the leg by using a larger cuff called a thigh cuff. The cuff is wrapped around the thigh and inflated. The person taking the reading places the stethoscope behind the knee and listens for the pulsations from the popliteal artery. The readings tend to be a few millimeters above what is usually obtained from the arms. This discrepancy is due to the mechanics/physics of the pressure traveling down the aorta which is a longer, but direct path from the heart. In elderly patients this difference is higher due to stiffening of the blood vessels that naturally occurs with the aging process. If the individual without the arms is not too large, then a large cuff may be sufficient to take a proper reading, as long as the cuff is not too tight when wrapped around the leg.

I hope this has been helpful.

Martin Cane, M.D.