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Clinical Trial
, 172 (2), 105-12

Results of a Prospective, Randomized Trial of Surgery Versus Thrombolysis for Occluded Lower Extremity Bypass Grafts

Clinical Trial

Results of a Prospective, Randomized Trial of Surgery Versus Thrombolysis for Occluded Lower Extremity Bypass Grafts

A J Comerota et al. Am J Surg.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to prospectively evaluate the treatment of patients with occluded lower extremity bypass grafts, comparing surgical revascularization with catheter-directed thrombolysis.

Materials and methods: One hundred twenty-four patients (68% male and 32% female) with lower limb bypass graft occlusion (46 autogenous and 78 prosthetic) were prospectively randomized to surgery (n = 46) or intra-arterial catheter-directed thrombolysis (n = 78) with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) 0.1 mg/kg/h modified to 0.05 mg/kg/h for up to 12 hours, or urokinase (UK) 250,000 U bolus followed by 4,000 U/min for 4 hours, then 2,000 U/min for up to 36 hours. A composite clinical outcome including death, amputation, ongoing/recurrent ischemia, and major morbidity was analyzed on an intent-to-treat basis at 30 days and 1 year.

Results: The average duration of graft occlusion was 34.0 days, with 58 (48%) presenting with acute ischemia (0 to 14 days) and 64 (52%) with chronic ischemia (> 14 days). Thirty-nine percent randomized to lysis failed catheter placement and required surgical revascularization. Overall, there was a better composite clinical outcome at 30 days (P = 0.023) and 1 year (P = 0.04) in the surgical group compared with lysis, due predominately to a reduction in ongoing/recurrent ischemia, most notable in autogenous grafts. However, following successful catheter placement, patency was restored by lysis in 84%, and 42% had a major reduction in their planned operation. One-year results of successful lysis compared favorably with the best surgical procedure, which was new graft placement. Acutely ischemic patients (0 to 14 days) randomized to lysis demonstrated a trend toward a lower major amputation rate at 30 days (P = 0.074) and significantly at 1 year (P = 0.026) compared with surgical patients, while those with > 14 days ischemia showed no difference in limb salvage but higher ongoing/recurrent ischemia in lytic patients (P < 0.001). Patients with occluded prosthetic grafts had greater major morbidity than did those with occluded autogenous grafts (P < 0.02).

Conclusions: Proper catheter positioning currently limits the potential of catheter-directed thrombolysis for lower extremity bypass graft occlusion. Patients with graft occlusion > 14 days have a significantly better outcome when treated surgically, with a new bypass being the best surgical option. However, in patients with acute limb ischemia (< 14 days) successful thrombolysis of occluded lower extremity bypass grafts improves limb salvage and reduces the magnitude of the planned surgical procedure. Patients with occluded prosthetic grafts suffer more major morbid events compared with occluded autogenous grafts.

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