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J Vasc Surg. 2013 Oct;58(4):949-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2013.04.036. Epub 2013 May 25.

Outcomes of lower extremity bypass performed for acute limb ischemia.

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University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, Mass. Electronic address:



Acute limb ischemia remains one of the most challenging emergencies in vascular surgery. Historically, outcomes following interventions for acute limb ischemia have been associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. The purpose of this study was to determine contemporary outcomes following lower extremity bypass performed for acute limb ischemia.


All patients undergoing infrainguinal lower extremity bypass between 2003 and 2011 within hospitals comprising the Vascular Study Group of New England were identified. Patients were stratified according to whether or not the indication for lower extremity bypass was acute limb ischemia. Primary end points included bypass graft occlusion, major amputation, and mortality at 1 year postoperatively as determined by Kaplan-Meier life table analysis. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to evaluate independent predictors of mortality and major amputation at 1 year.


Of 5712 lower extremity bypass procedures, 323 (5.7%) were performed for acute limb ischemia. Patients undergoing lower extremity bypass for acute limb ischemia were similar in age (66 vs 67; P = .084) and sex (68% male vs 69% male; P = .617) compared with chronic ischemia patients, but were less likely to be on aspirin (63% vs 75%; P < .0001) or a statin (55% vs 68%; P < .0001). Patients with acute limb ischemia were more likely to be current smokers (49% vs 39%; P < .0001), to have had a prior ipsilateral bypass (33% vs 24%; P = .004) or a prior ipsilateral percutaneous intervention (41% vs 29%; P = .001). Bypasses performed for acute limb ischemia were longer in duration (270 vs 244 minutes; P = .007), had greater blood loss (363 vs 272 mL; P < .0001), and more commonly utilized prosthetic conduits (41% vs 33%; P = .003). Acute limb ischemia patients experienced increased in-hospital major adverse events (20% vs 12%; P < .0001) including myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure exacerbation, deterioration in renal function, and respiratory complications. Patients who underwent lower extremity bypass for acute limb ischemia had no difference in rates of graft occlusion (18.1% vs 18.5%; P = .77), but did have significantly higher rates of limb loss (22.4% vs 9.7%; P < .0001) and mortality (20.9% vs 13.1%; P < .0001) at 1 year. On multivariable analysis, acute limb ischemia was an independent predictor of both major amputation (hazard ratio, 2.16; confidence interval, 1.38-3.40; P = .001) and mortality (hazard ratio, 1.41; confidence interval, 1.09-1.83; P = .009) at 1 year.


Patients who present with acute limb ischemia represent a less medically optimized subgroup within the population of patients undergoing lower extremity bypass. These patients may be expected to have more complex operations followed by increased rates of perioperative adverse events. Additionally, despite equivalent graft patency rates, patients undergoing lower extremity bypass for acute ischemia have significantly higher rates of major amputation and mortality at 1 year.

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