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J Vasc Surg. 2002 Oct;36(4):679-84.

Predicting iliac limb occlusions after bifurcated aortic stent grafting: anatomic and device-related causes.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.



Graft limb occlusion may complicate endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair. The precise etiologic factors that contribute to the development of these graft limb thromboses have not been defined. We evaluated our experience with bifurcated aortic endografts to determine factors that may predict subsequent limb thrombosis. The management of the thrombosed limbs and the results after treatment were also investigated.


During a 4-year period, 351 patients with aortic aneurysms underwent treatment with bifurcated endografts (702 graft limbs at risk). These 351 bifurcated devices included AneuRx (Medtronic, Minneapolis, Minn; n = 35), Ancure (Guidant, Menlo Park, Calif; n = 8), Gore (W.L. Gore & Associates, Sunnyvale, Calif; n = 25), Talent (World Medical, Sunrise, Fla; n = 255), Teramed (Teramed, Minneapolis, Minn; n = 10), and Vanguard (Boston Scientific Vascular, Natick, Mass; n = 18). Details regarding the type of device, mechanism of deployment, and aortoiliac artery anatomy were collected prospectively and analyzed. Graft limbs were analyzed for diameter, use of additional endograft iliac extensions, deployment in the external iliac artery, and endograft to vessel oversizing. Follow-up included physical examination, duplex ultrasonography, and spiral computed tomographic scans at 1 month, 6 months, and 12 months and annually thereafter. The follow-up period ranged from 2 to 54 months, with a mean follow-up period of 20 months.


Twenty-six of 702 limbs (3.7%) had an occlusion develop. The risk of limb thrombosis was associated with a smaller limb diameter. Mean graft limb diameter was 14 mm in the occluded population, and patent limbs had a mean diameter of 16 mm. Thrombosis occurred in 16 of 291 limbs (5.5%) that were 14 mm or less and in 10 of 411 limbs (2.4%) that were greater than 14 mm (P =.03). Extension of a graft to the external iliac artery was performed in 96 of the 702 limbs. Eight of these 96 limbs (8.3%) had thrombosis develop as compared with 18 of 606 (3.0%) that extended to the common iliac artery (P =.01). No significant association was present between limb thrombosis and the contralateral or ipsilateral side of a device, the configuration of the iliac graft limb end (closed web, open web, or bare spring), or the degree of iliac graft limb oversizing. AneuRx, Ancure, Vanguard, and Talent grafts each sustained limb occlusions, with no occlusions seen among the Gore and Teramed devices. No significant increased risk of graft limb thrombosis was observed in unsupported grafts (1/16; 6.3%) versus supported grafts (25/686; 3.6%; P = not significant). Thromboses occurred between 1 day and 23 months after surgery. Thirteen of the 26 thromboses (50%) occurred within 30 days of surgery. Presenting symptoms were mild to moderate claudication in eight patients (30.8%), severe claudication in 16 patient (61.5%), and paresthesia and rest pain in two patients (7.7%). Eighteen of 26 patients (69.2%) eventually needed intervention to reestablish flow to the occluded limb, including thrombolysis and stenting in two patients (7.7%), axillary femoral bypass in one patient (3.8%), femoral-femoral bypass in 13 patients (50.0%), and axillary-bifemoral bypass in two patients (7.7%). All patients with mild to moderate symptoms under observation had improvement in symptoms with no further interventions necessary. All revascularizations were successful in relieving symptoms.


Graft limb occlusion is a recognized complication of endovascular treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms that may be associated with smaller graft limb diameter and extension to the external iliac artery. Occlusions usually necessitate additional intervention for resolution of ischemic symptoms. The use of small diameter grafts should be avoided when possible to reduce the risk of graft limb occlusions.

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