Repeated measurements of ankle-brachial index (ABI) using Doppler method were shown to be accurate during atrial fibrillation. Oscillometric devices are effective in ABI measurement, but their accuracy during atrial fibrillation is unknown. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether atrial fibrillation influences ABI obtained with the automatic oscillometric method.

Material and methods:
Ninety-nine patients with atrial fibrillation (mean age: 66.6 +(SD = 11) years, M/F  63/36) who underwent electrical cardioversion were investigated (198 lower extremities). The ABI measurements using oscillometric and Doppler methods were performed on both lower extremities before and after procedure.

The ABI measured using the oscillometric method on both lower limbs did not change after cardioversion (1.21 (IQR: 1.13-1.27) vs. 1.22 (IQR: 1.14-1.26), p = 0.664, respectively). The ABI measured before and after cardioversion using Doppler and oscillometric methods showed a significant difference (1.14 (IQR: 1.07-1.22) vs. 1.21 (IQR 1.13-1.27), p < 0.001 and 1.18 (IQR: 1.09-1.13) vs. 1.22 (IQR: 1.14-1.26), p < 0.001 respectively). Both methods showed a weak correlation before (r = 0.35, p < 0.001) and no correlation after cardioversion (r = 0.12, p = 0.07). The Bland-Altman plot showed poor agreement between measurements performed with the Doppler and oscillometric methods in sinus rhythm and during atrial fibrillation.

The automated oscillometric method of ABI measurements should not replace the reference Doppler method in patients with atrial fibrillation. More research related to the oscillometric measurements is needed in subjects with peripheral artery disease and atrial fibrillation.