Ankle Brachial Index Measurement in Primary Care Setting: How Long Does It Take?

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Background: Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) affects over 8 million people in the United States and has been found to be associated with an increased incidence of coronary and carotid artery disease. The ankle brachial index (ABI) measurement is a highly specific noninvasive screening and diagnostic test for PAD, but is rarely performed in primary care office settings. This study sought to determine the actual performance time involved in completing an ABI in a primary care office. Methods: Data were collected by one provider on a convenience sample of women who met the inclusion criteria. The time was recorded at the beginning and upon the completion of the ABI procedure for each patient. Analysis of the time data was completed and barriers to performing the ABI were recorded by the provider. Results: The average time to complete an ABI was 5 minutes, with a range of 3-11 minutes. In 83.8% of patient encounters, the ABI procedure took less than 6 minutes to complete. Barriers identified by the provider included the additional time needed to explain the test and assist patients into the proper testing position. Conclusions: The actual performance time for an ABI in a primary care setting takes an average of 5 minutes, but additional time may be required for patient preparation and education. With proper scheduling and training, the ABI can be completed in a timely manner. The ABI is an important screening/diagnostic test that can be performed in primary care and potentially impact patient treatment plans.