Common femoral artery ligation and local debridement: a safe treatment for infected femoral artery pseudoaneurysms

S Arora, M A Weber, C J Fox, R Neville, A Lidor, A N Sidawy
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2001, 33 (5): 990-3

PURPOSE: The management of infected femoral artery pseudoaneurysms (IFAPs) is difficult and controversial. Use of synthetic or autologous conduit during arterial revascularization in these cases is complicated by the presence of sepsis and unavailability of autologous venous conduit. We present the results of common femoral artery (CFA) ligation and local drainage with debridement for the treatment of IFAP.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of six consecutive patients from 1995 to 1999 who presented with IFAP from intravenous drug abuse was performed. Inpatient records, anesthesia records, and outpatient clinic charts were reviewed. All patients were men with right-sided lesions. All six patients abused heroin, and five (83%) abused heroin and cocaine. All six patients had a duplex ultrasound scan, and five (83%) patients had a digital subtraction angiogram to confirm the clinical diagnosis. Proximal vascular control was achieved retroperitoneally through an oblique suprainguinal incision. After vascular isolation and test clamping of the distal external iliac artery (EIA), the pedal pulses were examined with continuous wave Doppler scan. If a Doppler signal was present, this was followed with CFA ligation and local drainage and debridement of the IFAP.

RESULTS: Pain at injection site and fever with chills were present in five (83%) and three (50%) patients, respectively. A pulsatile groin mass and thigh or leg edema were present in five (83%) patients. Three patients (50%) had a palpable pedal pulse, and all six had a Doppler signal over a pedal artery at presentation. The mean white cell count was 15.6 thousand per cubic millimeter (range, 9.2-19.3). All patients had a Doppler signal over a pedal artery after distal EIA/CFA test occlusion and ligation. None of the patients required an amputation, and all six patients regained their preoperative ambulatory status. The mean follow-up period was 25 months. Two patients had mild claudication (5-6 blocks) at 18 months and 2 years after surgery. All six patients received drug rehabilitation, but they admitted to drug abuse after surgery and rehabilitation.

CONCLUSION: CFA ligation and local debridement are safe treatment modalities for IFAP, if there is an intraoperative Doppler signal over a pedal artery during test occlusion of the distal EIA/CFA. CFA ligation avoids the use and therefore the risk of synthetic conduit infection, because there is a high incidence of postoperative drug injection despite aggressive drug rehabilitation.

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