Pre-operative Duplex Ultrasonography in Arteriovenous Fistula Creation: Intra- and Inter-observer Agreement

Niek Zonnebeld*, Tommy M. G. Maas, Wouter Huberts, Magda M. van Loon, Tammo Delhaas, Jan H. M. Tordoir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Although clinical guidelines on arteriovenous fistula (AVF) creation advocate minimum luminal arterial and venous diameters, assessed by duplex ultrasonography (DUS), the clinical value of routine DUS examination is under debate. DUS might be an insufficiently repeatable and/or reproducible imaging modality because of its operator dependency. The present study aimed to assess intra-and inter-observer agreement of DUS examination in support of AVF surgery planning.

Methods: Ten end stage renal disease patients were included, to assess intra-and inter-observer agreement of pre-operative DUS measurements. All measurements were performed by two trained and experienced vascular technicians, blinded to measurement readings. From the routine DUS protocol, representative measurements (venous diameters, and arterial diameters and volume flow in the upper arm and forearm) were selected. For intra-observer agreement the measurements were performed in triplicate, with the probe released from the skin between each. Intraclass correlation coefficients were calculated for intra-and inter-observer agreement, and Bland-Altman plots used to graphically display mean measurement differences and limits of agreement.

Results: Ten patients (6 male, 59.4 +/- 19.7 years) consented to participate, and all predefined measurements were obtained. Intraclass correlation coefficients for intra-observer agreement of diameter measurements were at least 0.90 (95% CI 0.74-0.97; radial artery). Inter-observer agreement was at least 0.83 (0.46-0.96; lateral diameter upper arm cephalic vein). The Bland-Altman plots showed acceptable mean measurement differences and limits of agreement.

Conclusion: In experienced hands, excellent intra-and inter-observer agreement can be reached for the discrete pre-operative DUS measurements advocated in clinical guidelines. DUS is therefore a reliable imaging modality to support AVF surgery planning. The content of DUS protocols, however, needs further standardisation. (C) 2017 European Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-619
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Arteriovenous fistula
  • Duplex ultrasonography
  • Intraobserver agreement
  • Interobserver agreement
  • Intraclass correlation coefficient


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