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Management of infrapopliteal peripheral arterial occlusive disease.

OPINION STATEMENT: The management of infrapopliteal peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD) is challenging. For patients with asymptomatic disease or claudication, exercise and optimal medical management, including antiplatelet agents, blood pressure control, statin therapy and tight glucose control for patients with diabetes mellitus, are the mainstays of therapy. However, patients with isolated tibial artery occlusive disease often have diabetes mellitus or renal insufficiency and present with critical limb ischemia (CLI). CLI is advanced occlusive disease marked by the development of rest pain, ischemic ulceration, or gangrene and is associated with a high mortality rate. Limb salvage requires an intervention in cases of CLI, but careful operative planning is required as patients often have multilevel disease and limited options for revascularization. A surgical bypass with a vein graft remains the best treatment for infrapopliteal PAD, especially in patients with a life expectancy of over 2 years. Balloon angioplasty can play an important role in limb salvage, especially for patients lacking adequate vein for bypass, at high operative risk, or with a life expectancy of less than 2 years. However, a lack of rigorous trials has left unanswered questions as to the efficacy of infrapopliteal angioplasty with or without stents compared to bypass surgery. As such, endovascular therapy is currently not a proven treatment for intermittent claudication. Patients who are unable to undergo a revascularization procedure for infrapopliteal CLI have few options besides amputation or palliation. New therapies, such as drug-eluting stents, drug-coated balloons, and stem cell therapy are under development, but their efficacy and effectiveness remain unproven.

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