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J Vasc Surg. 1995 Feb;21(2):282-93; discussion 293-5.

Preferred strategies for secondary infrainguinal bypass: lessons learned from 300 consecutive reoperations.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.



To determine the optimal surgical strategies in reoperative infrainguinal bypass, we reviewed our results in 300 consecutive secondary bypasses in 251 patients operated on between Jan. 1, 1975, and Nov. 1, 1993.


There were 168 men (67%) and 83 women (33%), with a mean age of 64.8 years and a typical distribution of risk factors including smoking (76.4%), diabetes (33.7%), and coronary artery disease (47.1%). The indications for surgery were limb-threatening ischemia in 83.5% and severe claudication in 16.5% of patients. The majority of conduits (n = 213) were autogenous vein and were composed of a single segment of greater saphenous vein in 121 bypasses (57%) and various alternative veins including composite, arm, and lesser saphenous vein in 92 bypasses (43%). Prosthetic conduits included 69 polytetrafluoroethylene, 16 umbilical vein, and two Dacron grafts.


There was one perioperative death (0.3%) and a 25% total morbidity rate including a 1.7% myocardial infarction rate. There was a 28.6% early (< 30 days) graft failure and 10.7% early amputation rate for prosthetic bypass grafts compared with 13.6% early graft failure and 5.6% early amputation rates for vein grafts. Autogenous vein bypasses had higher 5-year secondary patency rates than had prosthetic grafts (51.5% +/- 4.6% vs 27.4% +/- 6.1%, p < 0.001). Results with autogenous vein bypass improved significantly from the 1975 to 1984 to the 1985 to 1993 interval with 5-year secondary patency rates increasing from 38.3% +/- 6.9% to 59.1% +/- 5.8% (p = 0.017) and 5-year limb-salvage rates increasing from 40.4% +/- 7.6% to 72.4% +/- 6.6% (p < 0.001). Vein grafts to the popliteal and tibial outflow levels had equivalent long-term results. Vein grafts completed for claudication demonstrated results superior to those for limb salvage, with a 5-year secondary patency rate of 75.8% +/- 8.1% versus 52.3% +/- 7.9% (p = 0.048). Secondary autogenous vein bypass grafting performed after early primary graft failure (< 3 months) did particularly poorly, with only a 27.2% +/- 7.7% 4-year secondary patency rate. Greater saphenous veins tended to perform better than alternative vein bypasses, with a 5-year secondary patency rate of 68.5% +/- 6.0% compared with 48.3% +/- 10.5% (p = 0.09) and a 5-year limb-salvage rate of 77.8% +/- 7.4% versus 54.2% +/- 11.8% (p = 0.046).


When patients suffer a recurrence of limb-threatening ischemia at the time of infrainguinal graft failure, aggressive attempts at secondary revascularization with autogenous vein are warranted based on the low surgical morbidity and mortality rates and the improved patency and limb salvage rates that are currently attainable.

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