Tibial bypass in patients with intermittent claudication is associated with poor outcomes

Academic Article


  • Objective: Given that intermittent claudication (IC) rarely progresses to chronic limb-threatening ischemia and limb loss, safety and durability of elective interventions for IC are essential. Whether patients with IC benefit from tibial intervention is controversial, and data supporting its utility are limited. Despite endovascular therapy expansion, surgical bypass is still commonly performed. We sought to assess outcomes of bypass to tibial arteries for IC. Methods: The Vascular Quality Initiative (2003-2018) was queried for infrainguinal bypasses performed for IC. Perioperative and 1-year outcomes were compared between bypasses constructed to tibial and popliteal arteries. Results: Of 5347 infrainguinal bypasses, 1173 (22%) and 4184 (78%) were tibial and popliteal bypasses, respectively. Overall, mean age was 65 ± 10 years, and patients were often men (72%) and current smokers (42%). Tibial bypasses commonly targeted posterior tibial (40%), tibioperoneal trunk (23%), and anterior tibial (19%) arteries. Great saphenous vein was more often used for tibial bypass than for popliteal bypass (78% vs 54%; P <.001). Patients undergoing tibial compared with popliteal bypass more often had impaired ambulation and prior ipsilateral bypasses and were less often taking antiplatelets and statins (all P <.05). In the perioperative period, tibial bypass patients had longer postoperative length of stay (4.5 ± 3.5 vs 3.5 ± 2.8 days), more pulmonary complications (1.3% vs 0.6%), and higher return to the operating room (7% vs 4%; all P <.05). Perioperative myocardial infarction (1.2% vs 0.8%; P =.19), stroke (0.4% vs 0.4%; P =.91), and mortality (0.3 vs 0.3%; P =.86) rates were similar between the cohorts. At 1 year, tibial compared with popliteal bypasses exhibited lower freedom from occlusion/death (81% vs 89%; P <.001), ipsilateral major amputation/death (90% vs 94%; P <.001), and reintervention/amputation/death (73% vs 80%; P <.001), but patient survival was similar (96% vs 97%; P =.07). On multivariable analysis, tibial compared with popliteal bypass was independently associated with increased occlusion/death (hazard ratio [HR], 1.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.28-2.11; P <.001), major ipsilateral amputation/death (HR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.12-2.19; P =.003), and ipsilateral reintervention/amputation/death (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.28-1.79; P <.001), with similar patient survival. Conclusions: In patients with IC, tibial bypass was associated with poor outcomes, including major amputation. Surgeons should exhaust nonoperative therapies and present realistic outcome expectations to their patients before offering such intervention.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Levin SR; Farber A; Osborne NH; Beck AW; McFarland GE; Rybin D; Cheng TW; Siracuse JJ
  • Start Page

  • 564
  • End Page

  • 571.e1
  • Volume

  • 73
  • Issue

  • 2