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J Vasc Surg. 2004 Dec;40(6):1149-57.

Bypass to plantar and tarsal arteries: an acceptable approach to limb salvage.

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  • 1Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Division of Vascular Surgery, Boston, Mass., USA.



This study was undertaken to evaluate our experience with distal arterial bypass to the plantar artery branches and the lateral tarsal artery for ischemic limb salvage.


This was a retrospective analysis of data prospectively entered into our vascular surgery database from January 1990 to January 2003 for all consecutive patients undergoing bypass grafting to the plantar artery branches or the lateral tarsal artery. Median follow-up was 9 months (range, 1-112 months). Demographic data, indications for surgery, outcomes, and patency were recorded, and statistical analysis was performed to assess significance.


Ninety-eight bypass procedures to either the medial plantar artery, lateral plantar artery, or lateral tarsal artery were performed in 90 patients. Eighty-one patients (83%) were men. Mean age was 67.5 +/- 11.6 years. Indications for operation were tissue loss in 93 patients (95%), rest pain in 3 patients (3%), and failing graft in 2 patients (2%). Eighteen patients (18%) had previously undergone vascular reconstruction, and 5 patients (5%) had undergone previous bypass to the dorsalis pedis artery. Seventy-one grafts (72%) had inflow from the popliteal artery, 25 grafts had inflow from a femoral artery or graft (26%), and 2 grafts had inflow from a tibial artery (2%). Conduits used were greater saphenous vein in 67 patients (69%), arm vein in 20 patients (20%), composite vein in 10 patients (10%), and polytetrafluoroethylene conduit in 1 patient (1%). There were 77 bypasses (79%) to plantar artery branches, and 21 bypasses (21%) to the lateral tarsal artery. Thirty-day mortality was 1% (1 of 98 procedures). Early graft failure within 30 days occurred in 11 patients (11%). In the subset of patients with a previous arterial reconstruction, there were 2 early graft failures within 30 days (11%). Both occurred in patients who had undergone previous bypass to the dorsalis pedis artery. Primary patency, secondary patency, limb salvage, and patient survival were 67%, 70%, 75%, and 91%, respectively, at 12 months, and 41%, 50%, 69%, and 63%, respectively, at 5 years, as determined from Kaplan-Meier survival curves. Greater saphenous vein grafts performed better than all other conduits, with a secondary patency rate of 82% versus 47% at 1 year (P = .009).


Inframalleolar bypass to plantar artery branches and the lateral tarsal artery, even in patients with a previously failed revascularization, can be undertaken with acceptable patency and limb salvage rates. Early graft failure, however, is higher, whereas patency and limb salvage rates are lower, compared with bypass to the dorsalis pedis artery. The use of saphenous vein as a conduit results in the best patency for plantar or lateral tarsal bypass procedures.

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