Endurance athletes with intermittent claudication caused by iliac artery stenosis treated by endarterectomy with vein patch--short- and mid-term results

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2012 Apr;43(4):472-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Introduction: Endurance athletes may suffer from intermittent claudication. A subgroup of 16% has severe iliac artery stenosis due to endofibrosis. In this study we report the short- and mid-term results of endarterectomy with venous patching.

Patients/methods: Athletes with claudication-like complaints were analysed using a protocol including cycling test and provocative echo-Doppler. Thirty-six athletes were diagnosed with serious iliac flow limitation (one bilateral), confirmed by additional magnetic resonance (MR) angiography. Endarterectomy with venous patching was performed for 32 iliac artery stenosis and five occlusions. Postoperative (mean 15.6 months) 33 legs were evaluated using the same diagnostic protocol. A complete follow-up after mean 29 months was obtained by questionnaire.

Results: Twenty-eight athletes were symptom free or could perform on a desired level with minor remaining complaints. Two athletes were satisfied though minor complaints prohibited high competition performance. Two athletes developed a re-stenosis and became symptom free after an additional operation. Three athletes had objective improvement but limited decrease in symptoms. One was unsatisfied but refused postoperative tests. The only major surgical complication was a postoperative bleeding necessitating re-operation. Postoperative tests showed significant increase in maximal workload and post-exercise ankle-brachial index. No aneurysm formation was detected.

Conclusions: Precise diagnosis and meticulously performed endarterectomy with vein patching have satisfactory results in mid-term follow-up with acceptable risk in endurance athletes complaining of intermittent claudication due to iliac artery stenosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / complications*
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / surgery*
  • Athletes
  • Endarterectomy* / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Iliac Artery*
  • Intermittent Claudication / etiology*
  • Intermittent Claudication / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Endurance
  • Saphenous Vein / transplantation*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult