Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Accuracy of auscultatory blood pressure measurement with a long cuff.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 08 August 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:354
  1. G A van Montfrans,
  2. G M van der Hoeven,
  3. J M Karemaker,
  4. W Wieling,
  5. A J Dunning
  1. Department of Cardiology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


    Intra-arterial blood pressure was compared with simultaneous auscultatory measurements in 37 subjects with a wide range of blood pressures and arm circumferences; six cuffs of various lengths and widths were used. Nineteen subjects had an arm circumference of 34 cm or more (mean 40 cm) and the other 18 were considered to be non-obese and had a mean arm circumference of 30 cm. With each larger cuff, in terms of bladder surface area, auscultatory blood pressure decreased a few mm relative to intra-arterial pressure both for systolic and for diastolic measurements. Apart from diastolic pressure measured with the two 12 cm wide cuffs (12 X 23 cm, 12 X 30 cm) in the obese group all other auscultatory measurements differed less than 5% from intra-arterial pressure, albeit with considerable variability among the subjects. The differences in error among measurements with the four largest cuffs in the obese group (13 X 30 cm, 14 X 30 cm, 14 X 38 cm, and a conical cuff) were clinically irrelevant, and there was even less to choose among all six cuffs in the non-obese subjects. These results suggest that auscultatory blood pressure may be measured with acceptable accuracy with a single long bladdered cuff both in subjects with large arms and in subjects with normal sized arms.