Noninvasive assessment of vascular function in the posterior tibial artery of healthy humans
1 University of Georgia, Department of Exercise Science, Athens, GA 30602, USA
2 Morehouse University, Atlanta, GA, USA
Dynamic Medicine 2003, 2:1 doi:10.1186/1476-5918-2-1Published: 11 February 2003
Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) measures the ability of an artery to relax in response to increases in blood velocity. FMD, primarily of the brachial artery, has been used as a noninvasive method of assessing vascular health. The purpose of this study was to assess FMD in the lower legs of humans. Six healthy subjects (27 ± 6 yrs) were tested. Doppler ultrasound images of the posterior tibial artery were taken before, during, and after 5 minutes of proximal cuff occlusion. FMD was measured as the percent increase in diameter after cuff release. Vascular tone was calculated using the resting diameter as a percentage of the vessel's vasoactive range. Minimum diameter occurred during ischemia and maximal diameter occurred following reactive hyperemia with local heating. The lower leg was heated with 10 minutes of immersion in 44°C water. Mean diameters at rest, cuff, and during release were 0.267 ± 0.062, 0.162 ± 0.036, 0.302 ± 0.058 cm, respectively. FMD was 13.5 ± 6.6 % and vascular tone was 29 ± 16.3%. We also found that retesting on a second day produced mean diameter values within 8% of the first day. Larger resting diameter (decreased tone) correlated with decreased FMD (r2 = 0.73). These results suggest that FMD and vascular tone can be measured in the posterior tibial artery. This is a potentially powerful tool to non-invasively measure vascular health in the lower legs of people at risk for vascular disease.