JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Duplex-guided balloon angioplasty and subintimal dissection of infrapopliteal arteries: early results with a new approach to avoid radiation exposure and contrast material.

OBJECTIVE: Balloon angioplasties of stenotic or occluded infrapopliteal arteries may be helpful in selected high-risk patients threatened with limb loss. Thus far, these procedures have demanded fluoroscopy and the injection of potentially nephrotoxic contrast material. Herein, we proposed a new alternative to avoid the harmful effects of radiation exposure and the risk of acute renal failure.

METHODS: Over the last 16 months, 30 patients (57% male) aged 74 +/- 9 years (mean +/- SD) had a total of 52 attempted balloon angioplasties of the infrapopliteal arteries in 32 limbs under duplex guidance. Indications for the procedure were critical ischemia in 20 limbs (63%), including rest pain, ischemic ulcers, and gangrene in 4 (13%), 10 (31%), and 6 (19%) limbs, respectively. Severe disabling claudication was an indication in the remaining 12 limbs (37%). All patients had concomitantly performed balloon angioplasties of the superficial femoral and popliteal arteries (28 cases) or the popliteal artery alone (4 cases). Balloon angioplasty of the infrapopliteal arteries was performed as an adjunct to improve runoff. Hypertension, diabetes, renal insufficiency, smoking, and coronary artery disease were present in 77%, 73%, 50%, 47%, and 37% of cases, respectively. There were 42 cases (81%) with infrapopliteal arterial stenoses (25 tibioperoneal trunks, 9 peroneal arteries, 4 anterior tibial arteries, and 4 posterior tibial arteries) in 26 limbs. The remaining 10 cases (19%) had infrapopliteal arterial occlusions (4 tibioperoneal trunks, 5 peroneal arteries, and 1 anterior tibial artery) in 6 limbs. All these cases were combined with more proximal endovascular procedures (21 femoropopliteal stenoses and 11 femoropopliteal occlusions). All patients had preprocedure duplex arterial mapping and ankle/brachial index (ABI) measurement. Local anesthesia with light sedation was used in all cases. The common femoral artery was cannulated under direct duplex visualization. Still under duplex guidance, a guidewire was directed into the proximal superficial femoral artery and distally, beyond the infrapopliteal diseased segment. The diseased segment was then balloon-dilated. Balloon diameter and length were chosen according to the arterial measurements obtained by duplex guidance. Completion duplex examinations were performed and postprocedure ABIs were obtained in all cases.

RESULTS: Although the overall technical success was 94% (49/52 cases), it was 95% for those with stenoses (40/42 cases) and 90% for those with occlusions (9/10 cases; P < .5). Intraoperative thrombosis occurred in three infrapopliteal cases (two tibioperoneal trunks and one peroneal artery) and in one popliteal artery. All four cases were successfully managed with intra-arterial infusion of thrombolytic agents under duplex guidance. Overall, the preprocedure and postprocedure ABIs ranged from 0.4 to 0.8 (mean +/- SD, 0.58 +/- 0.15) and 0.7 to 1.1 (mean +/- SD, 0.9 +/- 0.16), respectively (P < .0001). Twenty-two (88%) of 25 patients experienced a significant (> 0.15) postoperative ABI increase. Overall 30-day survival and limb salvage rates were 100%.

CONCLUSIONS: The proposed technique eliminates the need for radiation exposure and the use of contrast material, and it seems to be an effective alternative approach for the treatment of infrapopliteal occlusive disease. Additional advantages include accurate selection of the proper size of balloon and confirmation of the adequacy of the technique by hemodynamic and imaging parameters.

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