Critical limb ischemia: a global epidemic.A critical analysis of current treatment unmasks the clinical and economic costs of CLI

EuroIntervention. 2005 May;1(1):75-84.


Background: Multiple reports document the higher costs of primary amputation (PA) compared to infrainguinal bypass surgery (IBS). Recent reports document 40-50% cost-effectiveness for percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) compared to IBS. The literature suggests appropriate initial treatment for critical limb ischemia (CLI) to be IBS = 38%, PTA = 28%, and PA = 16%. The encouraging 6-month Laser Angioplasty for Critical Limb Ischemia (LACI) 93% limb salvage rate prompted an independent CLI and LACI clinical and economic analysis.

Methods: Between 1999-2001 a reference amputation population (RAP) of 417 patients with at least one infrainguinal amputation were identified from a 2.5 million patients Medicare/insurance dataset. Clinical data and all medical cost claims for 18 continuous months, 12-month prior and 6-month post-amputation, were analyzed for PTA, IBS, and PA treatment pathways. Based on multiple assumptions and the LACI phase II results, economic outcomes were used for a LACI pathway analysis compared to PTA, IBS and PA pathways by substituting the LACI trial pathway as the initial treatment in lieu of the RAP actual treatment.

Results: Initial treatments for CLI RAP were PA = 67%, IBS = 23%, PTA = 10%; A majority of wound complications (80%) and myocardial infarction 7/9 (77.7%), stroke 13/16 (81.2%), and death 2/2 (100%) occurred in the PA RAP. Only 35% of the RAP had an ankle brachial index (ABI) and only 16% angiography before PA. 227/417 (56%) of the RAP had multiple procedures. Average total costs / patient = $31,638 without LACI and $25,373 with LACI. Average savings/patient with LACI = $6,265.

Conclusion: The most common current treatments in the US for CLI are still characterized by high rates of primary amputations, multiple procedures, and high rates of procedure-related complications. Despite the limitations and assumptions of this analysis, the utilization of a LACI pathway first revascularization treatment strategy may provide clinical and economic cost savings in treating patients with CLI.