The correlation between symptoms and non-invasive test results in patients referred for peripheral arterial disease testing

Vasc Med. 1996;1(1):65-71. doi: 10.1177/1358863X9600100112.


The WHO/Rose questionnaire has served as the epidemiologic and clinical standard in the assessment of leg pain in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) for over three decades. However, the structure of this questionnaire does not allow assessment of leg-specific (i.e. right versus left) symptoms. We studied 508 patients aged 39-95 years (mean 68 years), initially referred for PAD non-invasive testing. A revised questionnaire, the San Diego Claudication Questionnaire, was administered which allowed determination of leg-specific symptoms and evaluated thigh and buttock as well as calf pain. Leg-specific symptoms were categorized into no pain, pain at rest, non-calf claudication, non-Rose calf claudication, and Rose claudication. At the same visit, the ankle brachial index, the toe brachial index, and peak posterior tibial flow velocity were measured by Doppler ultrasound and five categories of non-invasive results by type and severity of PAD were defined. Legs with previous intervention (Rx), surgery or angioplasty, were evaluated separately. Claudication was reported in 42% of no Rx legs and 50% of Rx legs; 40% of claudication was atypical (not Rose); 64% of no Rx and 81% of Rx legs had PAD by non-invasive testing, and 27% of affected legs had severe PAD. The correlation between the severity of symptoms and the severity of ipsilateral PAD in no Rx legs was r = -0.40, p < 0.001. In Rx legs, this correlation was somewhat less (r = 0.27, p < 0.001) due to more symptomatology at lesser degrees of PAD, suggesting reporting bias and/or more residual disease than evident from non-invasive testing. To our knowledge, these results provide the first comparison between a standardized assessment of leg pain and the severity of ipsilateral PAD by non-invasive testing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arteriosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Arteriosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Arteriosclerosis / therapy
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler