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J Vasc Surg. 1998 Aug;28(2):215-25.

Lower extremity arterial reconstruction in the very elderly: successful outcome preserves not only the limb but also residential status and ambulatory function.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass, USA.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate our results with lower extremity arterial reconstruction (LEAR) in patients 80 years of age or older and to assess its impact on ambulatory function and residential status.


We performed a retrospective review of all patients 80 years of age or older undergoing LEAR at a single institution from January 1990 through December 1995. Preoperative information regarding residential status and ambulatory function was obtained from the hospital record and vascular registry. Telephone interviews with patients or next of kin were undertaken to provide information regarding postoperative residential status and ambulatory function. Residential status and level of ambulatory function were graded by a simple scoring system in which 1 indicates living independently, walking without assistance; 2 indicate living at home with family, walking with an ambulatory assistance device; 3 indicates an extended stay in a rehabilitation facility, using a wheelchair; and 4 indicates permanent nursing home, bedridden. Preoperative and postoperative scores for both residential status and ambulatory function were compared. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were generated for graft patency, limb salvage, and patient survival.


Two hundred ninety-nine lower extremity bypass operations were performed in 262 patients 80 years of age or older (45% men, mean age 83.6 years, range 80 to 96 years). Sixty-seven percent of the patients had diabetes mellitus. Limb salvage was the indication for operation in 96%. The preoperative mean residential status and ambulatory function scores were 1.79+/-0.65 and 1.55+/-0.66, respectively. The perioperative mortality rate at 30 days was 2.3%. The median length of hospital stay decreased from 16 days in 1990 to 8 days in 1995 (range 4 to 145 days). Eighty-seven percent of grafts were performed with the autologous vein. The 5-year primary, assisted primary, and secondary graft patency rates for all grafts were 72%, 80%, and 87%, respectively. The limb salvage rate at 5 years was 92%. The patient survival rate at 5 years was 44%. The postoperative residential status and ambulatory function scores were 1.95+/-0.80 and 1.70+/-0.66, respectively. Overall scores remained the same or improved in 88% and 78% of patients, respectively.


LEAR in octogenarians is safe, with graft patency and limb salvage rates comparable to those reported for younger patients. LEAR preserves the ability to ambulate and reside at home for most patients.

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