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J Vasc Surg. 1995 Feb;21(2):255-68; discussion 268-9.

Directional atherectomy versus balloon angioplasty in segmental femoropopliteal artery disease: two-year follow-up with color-flow duplex scanning.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.



Directional atherectomy is an endovascular interventional technique for excision and removal of obstructive arterial lesions. To evaluate whether atherectomy would provide better results than conventional balloon angioplasty (BA) in symptomatic femoropopliteal disease, a prospective randomized study comparing the early and late outcomes of these techniques was conducted. The rate of restenosis or occlusion was assessed by use of color-flow duplex scanning during the follow-up period.


Seventy-three patients were randomized between atherectomy (38 patients) and BA (35 patients). All patients had segmental lesions of the femoropopliteal arteries amenable to either technique. The median follow-up duration was 13 months (range 1 to 39). Follow-up comprised regular clinical and hemodynamic assessment and color-flow duplex examinations. Restenosis was defined on the basis of a peak systolic velocity ratio of 2.5 or greater, and occlusion of the treated segment was diagnosed if flow signals were absent, that is, loss of patency.


Residual stenoses (> or = 30% diameter reduction) resulted in five patients (13%) undergoing atherectomy and three patients (9%) undergoing BA. At 1 month clinical and hemodynamic improvement by Society for Vascular Surgery/International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery criteria for lower limb ischemia was observed in 34 patients (89%) treated with atherectomy and in 34 (97%) treated with BA. By life-table analysis the cumulative rate of clinical and hemodynamic success at 2 years was 52% in patients treated with atherectomy and 87% in patients treated with BA (p = 0.06). The patency rate at 2 years of treated segments was 34% in the atherectomy group and 56% in patients treated with BA (p = 0.07). In patients with lesions greater than 2 cm, the 1-year patency rate of AT was significantly lower than BA (p = 0.03).


Atherectomy does not result in an improved clinical and hemodynamic outcome. Furthermore atherectomy of segmental atherosclerotic femoropopliteal disease does not result in a better patency rate than BA, and, in lesions with greater length than 2 cm, the atherectomy results are significantly worse.

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