Comparison of graft patency, limb salvage, and antithrombotic therapy between prosthetic and autogenous below-knee bypass for critical limb ischemia

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Department of Surgery



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BACKGROUND: The autogenous vein is the preferred conduit in below-knee vascular reconstructions. However, many argue that prosthetic grafts can perform well in crural bypass with adjunctive antithrombotic therapy. We therefore compared outcomes of below-knee prosthetic versus autologous vein bypass grafts for critical limb ischemia and the use of adjunctive antithrombotic therapy in both settings.

METHODS: Utilizing the registry of the Vascular Study Group of New England (2003-2009), we studied 1227 patients who underwent below-knee bypass for critical limb ischemia, 223 of whom received a prosthetic graft to the below-knee popliteal artery (70%) or more distal target (30%). We used propensity matching to identify a patient cohort receiving single-segment saphenous vein yet had remained similar to the prosthetic cohort in terms of characteristics, graft origin/target, and antithrombotic regimen. Main outcome measures were graft patency and major limb amputation within 1 year. Secondary outcomes were bleeding complications (reoperation or transfusion) and mortality. We performed comparisons by conduit type and by antithrombotic therapy.

RESULTS: Patients receiving prosthetic conduit were more likely to be treated with warfarin than those with greater saphenous vein (57% vs. 24%, P<0.001). After propensity score matching, we found no significant difference in primary graft patency (72% vs. 73%, P=0.81) or major amputation rates (17% vs. 13%, P=0.31) between prosthetic and single-segment saphenous vein grafts. In a subanalysis of grafts to tibial versus popliteal targets, we noted equivalent primary patency and amputation rates between prosthetic and venous conduits. Whereas overall 1-year prosthetic graft patency rates varied from 51% (aspirin+clopidogrel) to 78% (aspirin+warfarin), no significant differences were seen in primary patency or major amputation rates by antithrombotic therapy (P=0.32 and 0.17, respectively). Further, the incidence of bleeding complications and 1-year mortality did not differ by conduit type or antithrombotic regimen in the propensity-matched analysis.

CONCLUSIONS: Although limited in size, our study demonstrates that, with appropriate patient selection and antithrombotic therapy, 1-year outcomes for below-knee prosthetic bypass grafting can be comparable to those for greater saphenous vein conduit.


Citation: Suckow BD, Kraiss LW, Stone DH, Schanzer A, Bertges DJ, Baril DT, Cronenwett JL, Goodney PP; Vascular Study Group of New England. Comparison of graft patency, limb salvage, and antithrombotic therapy between prosthetic and autogenous below-knee bypass for critical limb ischemia. Ann Vasc Surg. 2013 Nov;27(8):1134-45. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2013.01.019. Link to article on publisher's site

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