Objectives: To compare percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) against exercise training in the treatment of stable claudication.
Design: Prospective, randomised trial.
Materials: Fifty-six patients with unilateral, stable, lower limb claudication assessed prior to randomisation, at 3 monthly intervals for 15 months, and at approximately 6 years follow-up. Thirty-seven patients were available for long term review.
Outcome measures: Ankle/brachial pressure index (ABPI), treadmill claudication and maximum walking distances, percentage fall in ankle systolic pressure after exercise.
Results: Significant increases were seen in ABPI in the patients treated with PTA at all assessment to 15 months. However in terms of improved walking performance, the most significant changes in claudication and maximum walking distance were seen in the exercise training group. At long term follow-up, there was no significant difference between the groups. Subgroup analysis by angiographic site of disease showed greater functional improvement in those patients with disease confined to the superficial femoral artery treated by exercise training. The overall prognosis for the whole group of patients was benign, with only two (4%) undergoing amputation.
Conclusions: Exercise training confers a greater improvement in claudication and maximum walking distance than PTA, especially in patients with disease confined to the superficial femoral artery.