Systematic review of guidelines on peripheral artery disease screening

Am J Med. 2012 Feb;125(2):198-208.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.06.027. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Background: Peripheral artery disease (PAD) screening may be performed to prevent progression of PAD or future cardiovascular disease in general. Recommendations for PAD screening have to be derived indirectly because no randomized trials comparing screening versus no screening have been performed. We performed a systematic review of guidelines to evaluate the value of PAD screening in asymptomatic adults.

Methods: Guidelines in English published between January 1, 2003 and January 20, 2011 were retrieved using MEDLINE, CINAHL, the National Guideline Clearinghouse, the National Library for Health, the Canadian Medication Association Infobase, and the G-I-N International Guideline Library. Guidelines developed by national and international medical societies from Western countries, containing recommendations on PAD screening, were included. Two reviewers independently assessed rigor of guideline development using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE) instrument. One reviewer performed full extraction of recommendations, which was validated by a second reviewer.

Results: Of 2779 titles identified, 8 guidelines were included. AGREE scores varied from 33% to 81%. Five guidelines advocated PAD screening, others found insufficient evidence for PAD screening or were against it. Measurement of the ankle-brachial index (ABI) was generally recommended for middle-aged populations with elevated cardiovascular risk levels. Those identified as having PAD are reclassified as high risk, warranting intensive preventive interventions to reduce their risk of a cardiovascular event. The underlying evidence mainly consisted of studies performed in patients with established PAD. A meta-analysis that evaluated ABI testing in the context of traditional cardiovascular risk assessment was interpreted differently.

Conclusions: Recommendations on PAD screening vary across current guidelines, making the value of PAD screening uncertain. The variation seems to reflect lack of studies that show added value of detection of early PAD beyond expectant management and traditional risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Ankle Brachial Index / methods
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Disease Progression
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / complications
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / diagnosis*
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / epidemiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors