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J Vasc Surg. 2009 Oct;50(4):799-805.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2009.05.026.

Infrapopliteal balloon angioplasty for the treatment of chronic occlusive disease.

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  • 1Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery of the General Surgical Services, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



There is little documentation of the effectiveness of percutaneous balloon angioplasty (PTA) of infrapopliteal vessels for the treatment of chronic lower extremity ischemia. This study reviewed our recent experience with infrapopliteal PTA in a large series of patients to determine its effectiveness as a treatment modality.


All patients undergoing primary infrapopliteal PTA from March 2002 to June 2006 were included. Primary study end points were primary patency, assisted patency, limb salvage, and patient survival assessed by Kaplan-Meier life-table analysis. Factors predictive of PTA failure and patient longevity were evaluated by multivariate methods.


There were 155 PTAs undertaken in 144 patients (70% men; mean age, 74 years), with critical limb ischemia (86%), diabetes (66%), and renal insufficiency (45%). Infrapopliteal lesions were classified as TransAtlantic Inter-Society Consensus A (7%), B (18%), C (39%), and D (35%). PTA was confined to the infrapopliteal segment in 40 (26%), and 115 (74%) underwent multilevel treatment. Five patients (3%) received stents. Technical success was 95%. The 30-day mortality was 2%, and major morbidity was 3%. The mean follow-up was 22 months (range, 0-54 months). The 40-month actuarial primary patency was 62% (standard error, 5%), with assisted patency (infrapopliteal re-PTA, 25 [16%]) of 90%. Interval conversion to bypass surgery occurred in seven (5%). Nonhealing ulcers occurred in 118 patients (76%), of which 76 (64%) healed during follow-up. Of the 42 unhealed ulcers, 15 (13%) required major amputations for a 40-month limb salvage of 86.2%. Multivariate predictors that were negative for primary patency included 0/1 vessel runoff (P = .01), critical limb ischemia (P = .002), and dialysis (P = .03). Negative predictors of limb salvage included dialysis (P = .007) and failure to improve runoff to the foot (P = .006). At 40-months, patient survival was 54%, with negative predictors including severe pulmonary disease (P = .01), coronary artery disease (P = .04), and renal insufficiency (P < .001).


Infrapopliteal angioplasty can be performed safely with favorable results in patients with limited longevity. Primary patency is related to disease extent. Secondary interventions may be necessary to maintain clinical success. These data indicate that PTA should be considered as initial therapy for infrapopliteal occlusive disease in patients with lower extremity ischemia.

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