Society for Vascular Surgery appropriate use criteria for management of intermittent claudication

J Vasc Surg. 2022 Jul;76(1):3-22.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2022.04.012. Epub 2022 Apr 22.


The Society for Vascular Surgery appropriate use criteria (AUC) for the management of intermittent claudication were created using the RAND appropriateness method, a validated and standardized method that combines the best available evidence from medical literature with expert opinion, using a modified Delphi process. These criteria serve as a framework on which individualized patient and clinician shared decision-making can grow. These criteria are not absolute. AUC should not be interpreted as a requirement to administer treatments rated as appropriate (benefit outweighs risk). Nor should AUC be interpreted as a prohibition of treatments rated as inappropriate (risk outweighs benefit). Clinical situations will occur in which moderating factors, not included in these AUC, will shift the appropriateness level of a treatment for an individual patient. Proper implementation of AUC requires a description of those moderating patient factors. For scenarios with an indeterminate rating, clinician judgement combined with the best available evidence should determine the treatment strategy. These scenarios require mechanisms to track the treatment decisions and outcomes. AUC should be revisited periodically to ensure that they remain relevant. The panelists rated 2280 unique scenarios for the treatment of intermittent claudication (IC) in the aortoiliac, common femoral, and femoropopliteal segments in the round 2 rating. Of these, only nine (0.4%) showed a disagreement using the interpercentile range adjusted for symmetry formula, indicating an exceptionally high degree of consensus among the panelists. Post hoc, the term "inappropriate" was replaced with the phrase "risk outweighs benefit." The term "appropriate" was also replaced with "benefit outweighs risk." The key principles for the management of IC reflected within these AUC are as follows. First, exercise therapy is the preferred initial management strategy for all patients with IC. Second, for patients who have not completed exercise therapy, invasive therapy might provide net a benefit for selected patients with IC who are nonsmokers, are taking optimal medical therapy, are considered to have a low physiologic and technical risk, and who are experiencing severe lifestyle limitations and/or a short walking distance. Third, considering the long-term durability of the currently available technology, invasive interventions for femoropopliteal disease should be reserved for patients with severe lifestyle limitations and a short walking distance. Fourth, in the common femoral segment, open common femoral endarterectomy will provide greater net benefit than endovascular intervention for the treatment of IC. Finally, in the infrapopliteal segment, invasive intervention for the treatment of IC is of unclear benefit and could be harmful.

Keywords: Appropriate use criteria; Intermittent claudication; Peripheral artery disease; RAND appropriateness method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Femoral Artery
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Claudication* / diagnosis
  • Intermittent Claudication* / surgery
  • Lower Extremity / blood supply
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects