Brachial artery ligation with total graft excision is a safe and effective approach to prosthetic arteriovenous graft infections

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Aged; Arm; *Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical; Blood Vessel Prosthesis; Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation; Brachial Artery; *Device Removal; Female; Humans; Kidney Failure, Chronic; Ligation; Male; Middle Aged; Prosthesis-Related Infections; Registries; Renal Dialysis; Retrospective Studies; Time Factors




OBJECTIVE: While autogenous arteriovenous access is preferred, prosthetic arteriovenous grafts (AVG) are still required in a large number of patients. Infection of AVGs occurs frequently and may cause life-threatening bleeding or sepsis. Multiple treatment strategies have been advocated (ranging from graft preservation to excision with complex concomitant reconstructions), indicating a lack of consensus on appropriate management of infected AVGs. We undertook this study to evaluate if, in the setting of anastomotic involvement, brachial artery ligation distal to the origin of the deep brachial artery accompanied by total graft excision (BAL) is safe and effective.

METHODS: All prosthetic arteriovenous graft infections managed by a single surgeon between 1995 and 2006 were reviewed retrospectively. Patients were identified from a computerized vascular registry, and data were obtained via patient charts and the electronic medical record.

RESULTS: We identified 45 AVG infections in 43 patients. Twenty-one patients (49%) demonstrated arterial anastomotic involvement and were treated with BAL; these form the cohort for this analysis. Mean patient age was 53.2 (SD 9.5) years. The primary etiologies for end stage renal disease (ESRD) were hypertension (29%), HIV (24%), and diabetes (19%). An upper arm AVG was present in 95% of patients; one (5%) had a forearm AVG. The majority of grafts were polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) (90%). Follow-up was 100% at 1 month, 86% at 3 months, and 67% at 6 months. No ischemic or septic complications occurred in the 21 patients who underwent BAL.

CONCLUSION: BAL is an effective and expeditious method to deal with an infected arm AVG in frequently critically ill patients with densely scarred wounds. In the short term, BAL appears to be well tolerated without resulting ischemic complications. Further study with longer duration of follow-up is necessary to ascertain whether BAL results in definitive cure, or whether patients may ultimately manifest ischemic changes and require additional intervention.

DOI of Published Version



J Vasc Surg. 2008 Sep;48(3):655-8. Epub 2008 Jun 24. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of vascular surgery : official publication, the Society for Vascular Surgery [and] International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery, North American Chapter

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