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J Vasc Surg. 2004 Oct;40(4):724-30; discussion 730-1.

Optimizing infrainguinal arm vein bypass patency with duplex ultrasound surveillance and endovascular therapy.

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Division of Vascular & Endovascular Surgery, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL 33606, USA.



Infrainguinal bypass grafting with arm vein is associated with lower patency rates compared with saphenous vein conduits. In this study the effect of a duplex ultrasound surveillance program to enable identification and treat graft lesions with open or endovascular repair on patency was analyzed.


Over 9 years 89 infrainguinal arm vein (26% spliced vein) bypasses were performed to treat critical lower limb ischemia in 89 patients without adequate saphenous vein conduits. Seventy-six (85%) of the bypasses were repeat procedures. Grafts were assessed at operation with duplex ultrasound scanning, then enrolled in a surveillance program. Graft stenoses with peak systolic velocity greater than 300 cm/s and velocity ratio greater than 3.5, detected at duplex ultrasound scanning, were repaired with percutaneous transluminal balloon angioplasty (PTA) if specific criteria were met, including greater than 3 months since primary procedure, lesion length less than 2 cm, and graft diameter greater than 3.5 mm, or with open surgical repair for early appearing or extensive graft lesions.


During a mean 26-month follow-up, duplex surveillance resulted in a 48% (43 bypasses) intervention rate. Primary patency rate was 43% at 3 years. Twenty-six (43%) of 61 lesions identified and repaired met criteria for PTA; the remaining 35 graft lesions (stenosis, n = 30; vein graft aneurysm, n = 5) were surgically corrected with vein patch angioplasty (n = 15), interposition grafting (n = 13), jump graft bypass (n = 6), or open repair (n = 1). At 3 years the assisted primary patency rate was 91% (7 graft failures). Multiple interventions were performed in 18 (42%) revised grafts because of metachronous (n = 6) or repair site stenosis (n = 12). In 18 graft interventions (PTA, n = 9; surgery, n = 9) recurrent stenosis developed, and endovascular therapy was used in one third (n = 6). At 3 years the stenosis-free patency rate for PTA (48%) and surgically repaired (53%) graft lesions was similar.


Arm veins used in lower limb bypass procedures are prone to development of stenosis and aneurysm, lesions easily detected with a life-long duplex ultrasound surveillance program. Excellent long-term patency (91%) was achieved despite graft intervention being performed in nearly half of all bypasses and one third of revised grafts. Endovascular treatment was possible in half of all graft stenosis, with outcomes similar to those with surgical repair.

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