Efficacy of dorsal pedal artery bypass in limb salvage for ischemic heel ulcers

S A Berceli, A K Chan, F B Pomposelli, G W Gibbons, D R Campbell, C M Akbari, D T Brophy, F W LoGerfo
Journal of Vascular Surgery 1999, 30 (3): 499-508

PURPOSE: Although pedal artery bypass has been established as an effective and durable limb salvage procedure, the utility of these bypass grafts in limb salvage, specifically for the difficult problem of heel ulceration, remains undefined.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 432 pedal bypass grafts placed for indications of ischemic gangrene or ulceration isolated to either the forefoot (n = 336) or heel (n = 96). Lesion-healing rates and life-table analysis of survival, patency, and limb salvage were compared for forefoot versus heel lesions. Preoperative angiograms were reviewed to evaluate the influence of an intact pedal arch on heel lesion healing.

RESULTS: Complete healing rates for forefoot and heel lesions were similar (90.5% vs 86.5%, P =.26), with comparable rates of major lower extremity amputation (9.8% vs 9.3%, P =.87). Time to complete healing in the heel lesion group ranged from 13 to 716 days, with a mean of 139 days. Preoperative angiography demonstrated an intact pedal arch in 48.8% of the patients with heel lesions. Healing and graft patency rates in these patients with heel lesions were independent of the presence of an intact arch, with healing rates of 90.2% and 83.7% (P =.38) and 2-year patency rates of 73.4% and 67.0% in complete and incomplete pedal arches, respectively. Comparison of 5-year primary and secondary patency rates between the forefoot and heel lesion groups were essentially identical, with primary rates of 56.9% versus 62.1% (P =.57) and secondary rates of 67.2% versus 60.3% (P =.50), respectively.

CONCLUSION: Bypass grafts to the dorsalis pedis artery provide substantial perfusion to the posterior foot such that the resulting limb salvage and healing rates for revascularized heel lesions is excellent and comparable with those observed for ischemic forefoot pathology.

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