Endothelial dysfunction is one of the hallmarks of atherogenesis, and correlates with many cardiovascular risk factors. One of the features of endothelial dysfunction is the loss of nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability, resulting in derangements in the vasodilatory response of the vessel wall. Flow mediated dilatation (FMD) of the brachial artery is an accepted method for non-invasive assessment of systemic endothelial function. FMD is examined extensively in the context of cardiovascular research, and has been utilised as a routine assessment in large cohorts such as the Framingham Heart Study, Young Finns Study, and Gutenberg Heart Study. However, FMD is less known in the context of vascular surgery research, despite the similarities between the underpinning disease mechanisms. This review will provide a summary of FMD in terms of its history of development and the conduct of the test in research settings. It will further highlight the key literature of FMD as a biomarker for vascular surgeons, particularly in the context of abdominal aortic aneurysms and lower limb peripheral arterial disease.
Keywords: Abdominal aortic aneurysm; Biomarkers; Flow mediated dilatation; Peripheral arterial disease.