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J Vasc Surg. 2000 Apr;31(4):696-701.

Adjunctive techniques to improve patency of distal prosthetic bypass grafts: polytetrafluoroethylene with remote arteriovenous fistulae versus vein cuffs.

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Vascular Institute for Health and Disease, Albany Medical College, Albany, NY 12208, USA.



The long-term patency for infrapopliteal bypass grafting with prosthetic material is less than optimal. Our experience demonstrates a 40% patency at 2 years for these grafts. Several adjuvant techniques have been developed to improve patency rates, two of which are a remote distal arteriovenous fistula and the creation of a distal vein cuff. This study summarizes our experience with these two techniques.


Between 1987 and 1998, 107 bypass graftings were performed to the below-knee popliteal or tibial vessels with the use of polytetrafluoroethylene. One group (48 bypass grafts) had polytetrafluoroethylene with adjuvant distal arteriovenous fistula (DAVF), and a second group (59 bypass grafts) was reconstructed with a distal vein cuff (DVC). The type of bypass grafting that was performed was based on surgeon experience and preference. Indications and demographics were similar in the two groups. All patients underwent the operation for limb-threatening ischemia, including gangrene (DAVF, 23%; DVC, 9%), ulceration (DAVF, 27%; DVC, 51%), and rest pain (DAVF, 50%; DVC, 40%).


The primary patency rate was 48% and 38% at 3 years for DAVF and DVC, respectively. Secondary patency was 48% and 47% at 3 years, with limb salvage rates of 76% and 92% for DAVF and DVC, respectively (P <.05). Attempted thrombectomy without continuation of patency was undertaken in two patients with a failed DAVF. Attempts at restoration after thrombosis were made in eight patients with failed DVCs. Five patients underwent thrombectomy, of which four procedures were successful. Three patients had thrombolytic therapy, and two of these remained patent.


Adjuvant techniques, including DAVF and DVC, produce acceptable long-term patency and limb salvage rates in bypass grafts performed to the below-knee popliteal and tibial vessels. This study suggests that DVCs may offer improved limb salvage rates and a greater opportunity for revision when bypass graft failure occurs.

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