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J Vasc Surg. 2001 Feb;33(2):259-64; discussion 264-5.

Autogenous composite vein bypass graft for infrainguinal arterial reconstruction.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Lower extremity arterial reconstruction in the absence of adequate greater saphenous vein remains a challenging problem in contemporary vascular practice. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the long-term results of autogenous composite vein grafts used for infrainguinal arterial bypass grafting.


We retrospectively evaluated a prospective vascular registry and reviewed inpatient and office records.


From June 1983 to September 1999, 165 autogenous composite vein infrainguinal bypass grafts were performed in 154 patients (87 men, 67 women; mean age, 69 years). The mean follow-up was 25 months (range, 3-147). Patients had the usual risk factors, including a 30% incidence of prior coronary bypass grafting. Forty-eight percent of bypass grafts were performed after failed previous reconstructions, and 90% were performed for limb salvage. The conduits were comprised of 2 segments (75%), 3 segments (23%), and 4 segments (2%). The distal anastomosis was at the popliteal level in 17% and the tibial/pedal level in 83%. The 30-day operative mortality rate was 1.8%. Perioperative graft failure (< 30 days) occurred in 18 bypass grafts (11%), resulting in early amputation (< 30 days) in 1.2%. The overall 5-year cumulative patency rates were 44% +/- 5% for primary patency, 63% +/- 5% for primary-assisted patency (PAP), and 65% +/- 5% for secondary patency (SP). A high revision rate for stenosis or thrombosis was required during follow-up to maintain patency of the grafts (27%). Limb salvage was 81% +/- 5% at 5 years. Primary reconstructions with composite vein fared significantly better than secondary reconstructions (SP 76% vs 54% at 5 years, P <.01). Arm vein composites showed superior patency compared with greater saphenous vein composites (SP 79% vs 61% at 5 years, P <.05).


Infrainguinal reconstruction with autogenous composite vein results in durable graft patency and limb salvage rates in patients with few alternatives for revascularization. Intensive graft surveillance with aggressive graft revision is necessary to achieve these results.

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