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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Dec 7;(12):CD008472. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008472.pub2.

Remote ischaemic preconditioning versus no remote ischaemic preconditioning for vascular and endovascular surgical procedures.

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  • 1Department of Vascular Surgery, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust Hospital, Pond Street, London, UK, NW3 2QG.



Despite advances in perioperative care, elective major vascular surgical procedures carry a significant risk of morbidity and mortality. Remote ischaemic preconditioning is initiated by brief, non-lethal periods of ischaemia in a vascular bed different from the one which will be subjected to ischaemic insult during surgery. It has the potential to provide local tissue protection from further prolonged periods of ischaemia.


The aim of this review was to compare the outcomes from vascular and endovascular surgical procedures with and without the use of remote ischaemic preconditioning.


The Cochrane Peripheral Vascular Diseases Group searched their Specialised Register (June 2011) and CENTRAL (2011, Issue 2). The authors searched MEDLINE via PubMed (July 2011), EMBASE (June 2011), and Science Citation Index Expanded (July 2011).


We considered for inclusion all randomised controlled trials that evaluated the role of remote ischaemic preconditioning in reducing mortality and systemic injury in patients undergoing open vascular or endovascular surgery.


We collected the data on characteristics of the trial, methodological quality, the remote ischaemic preconditioning stimulus used, mortality, morbidity, operating time and hospital stay from each trial. We analysed the data with both the fixed-effect and the random-effects models using RevMan analysis. For each outcome we calculated the risk ratio (RR) or mean difference with 95% confidence interval (CI) based on an intention-to-treat analysis.


We included four studies with a total of 115 patients randomised to undergo a vascular procedure with remote ischaemic preconditioning and 117 patients randomised to have the procedure without remote ischaemic preconditioning. None of the trials were of low risk of bias. There was no significant difference in mortality between the two groups (RR 1.70, 95% CI 0.51 to 5.72). Similarly, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups for all other outcomes except reduced risk of myocardial infarction in the remote ischaemic preconditioning group, which was significant by the fixed-effect model (RR 0.31, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.90) but not by the random-effects model (RR 0.34, 95% CI 0.11 to 1.08). This positive effect was from the results of only one trial and was not consistently observed. Furthermore, it was noted that there was an observed trend of high incidence of unplanned critical care admission in the remote ischaemic preconditioning group, although this was not statistically significant (RR 2.15, 95% CI 0.87 to 5.33).


Based on current evidence from small pilot trials, there are too few data to be able to say whether remote ischaemic preconditioning has any beneficial or harmful effects. The safety of this technique needs to be confirmed in adequately powered trials. Therefore, further randomised trials on this technique are required.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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