Fibrinogen and markers of fibrinolysis and endothelial damage following resolution of critical limb ischaemia

K R Woodburn, A Rumley, G D Lowe, J G Pollock
European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery 1995, 10 (3): 272-8

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of resolution of critical limb ischaemia on the elevated plasma fibrinogen, cross-linked fibrin degradation products (FDP), and von Willebrand factor antigen (vWF) levels, reported in peripheral arterial occlusive disease.

DESIGN: A prospective study of patients undergoing surgery for chronic critical limb ischaemia.

SETTING: Two vascular surgery units providing tertiary referral services for the West of Scotland.

MATERIALS: Venous blood samples were assayed for plasma fibrinogen, FDP D-dimer, and vWF levels, prior to surgery, together with fibrinolytic and rheological parameters, in 82 patients. Sampling was repeated 4 months after resolution of critical limb ischaemia.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Levels of these parameters following successful resolution of critical limb ischaemia were compared with pre-operative levels, and with an age-matched random population sample.

MAIN RESULTS: Plasma fibrinogen and vWF levels were significantly lower (both p < 0.005, Wilcoxon matched pairs) following successful resolution of critical limb ischaemia in the 56 patients available for review, although levels remained higher than in population controls (p < 0.01, Mann-Whitney U-test). FDP levels were unchanged following surgery, remaining higher than in age-matched population controls (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Resolution of critical limb ischaemia fails to reduce plasma fibrinogen, fibrin turnover, and vWF levels to those seen in population controls. This implies that increased fibrinogen and fibrin turnover in peripheral arterial disease is not solely a consequence of tissue ischaemia, while the persisting prothrombotic state following resolution of critical limb ischaemia has potentially important implications for graft and patient survival.

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