Fast-track thrombolysis protocol for acute limb ischemia

J Vasc Surg. 2021 Mar;73(3):950-959. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2020.03.061. Epub 2020 May 11.


Objective: Catheter-directed thrombolysis in the treatment of acute lower extremity arterial occlusions often requires several interventional sessions to generate successful outcomes. It is typically an expensive procedure, necessitating extended hospital length of stay (LOS) that may be associated with an increase in both local and systemic hemorrhagic complications. Five years ago, we created the fast-track thrombolysis protocol for arteries (FTTP-A) to deal with these concerns. The goal of our protocol is to re-establish patency during the first session of thrombolysis, thus decreasing costs and complications associated with prolonged periods of thrombolytic exposure.

Methods: A retrospective study of 42 patients who were treated for acute limb ischemia at our institution by FTTP-A from January 2014 to February 2019 was performed. FTTP-A includes periadventitial lidocaine injection at the arterial puncture site under ultrasound guidance, contrast arteriography of the entire targeted segment, pharmacomechanical rheolytic thrombectomy of the occluded arterial segment, tissue plasminogen activator infusion along the occluded segment, balloon maceration of the thrombus, and (if deemed necessary) placement of a stent in an area of significant (≥30%) stenosis that is refractory to balloon angioplasty and thrombolysis. After the stenosis or thrombus is cleared, patients are prescribed an oral anticoagulant agent.

Results: Primary FTTP-A (50 total interventions) was performed in 42 patients. The median age of patients was 67.2 ± 12.2 years (range, 41-98 years), and 54.8% were male; 59.5% of the procedures were performed on the left lower extremity. Initial arterial access was obtained through the common femoral artery in 39 of 42 cases (92.9%); in the remaining 3 cases, it was obtained in a left bypass access site, a right femoral-popliteal graft, and a right femoral-femoral graft. The mean operative time was 148.9 ± 62.9 minutes (range, 83-313 minutes), and the mean volume of tissue plasminogen activator infused was 9.7 ± 4.0 mg (range, 2-20 mg). The median cost including medications and interventional tools was $4673.19 per procedure. The mean postoperative LOS was 3.1 ± 4.5 days (range, 1-25 days). Median postoperative LOS was 1 day. Mean postoperative follow-up was 27 ± 19.2 months (range, 0-62 months). Single-session FTTP-A was successful in 81% (n = 34/42) of patients; the remaining 8 patients (19%) required a single additional session. Of the 42 patients, 34 (81%) required arterial stenting. Periprocedural complications consisted of one patient with hematuria, which resolved, and one patient with thrombocytopenia, which resolved. No patients experienced rethrombosis within 30 days of FTTP-A. During the 5-year study period, there was no significant local or systemic hemorrhage, limb loss, or mortality related to this protocol.

Conclusions: FTTP-A appears to be a safe, efficacious, and cost-effective procedure in the resolution of acute lower extremity arterial occlusions.

Keywords: Acute limb ischemia; AngioJet; Catheter-directed thrombolysis; Fast-track thrombolysis; Pharmacomechanical thrombectomy; Stenting; Tissue plasminogen activator.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angioplasty, Balloon / instrumentation
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Costs
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intra-Arterial
  • Ischemia / diagnostic imaging
  • Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Ischemia / economics
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / drug therapy*
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / economics
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stents
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / economics
  • Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Thrombosis / economics
  • Thrombosis / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Time-to-Treatment*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / adverse effects
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / economics
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Patency / drug effects


  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator