Classically, inadequate arterial inflow, diseased runoff, and poor bypass conduit quality have all been cited as causes of infrainguinal vein graft failure. To examine the role of arterial inflow failure as a specific cause of vein graft thrombosis, we prospectively analyzed 450 consecutive infrainguinal vascular reconstructions by means of a strict duplex scan surveillance protocol at three teaching institutions from 1986 to 1993. Sixteen incidences of arterial inflow failure (11 occlusions and five high-grade stenoses) above previously placed infrainguinal vein grafts were identified in 14 patients and confirmed by arteriography. Despite these inflow failures, all 14 autogenous vein infrainguinal reconstructions remained patent on arteriography. These inflow failures were observed from 2 to 72 months (mean 16 months) after infrainguinal reconstruction. Immediate successful inflow repair was performed in 13 of the 16 failures. Conversely, among 450 grafts followed, 37 acute graft occlusions occurred—all with arterio-graphically or noninvasively documented normal inflow. Thus no graft in the series has yet failed as a result of inflow occlusion (mean follow-up 22 months; range 1 to 78 months). We thus conclude that properly constructed infrainguinal saphenous vein bypass grafts with an intact endothelium often remain patent through low-flow collateral vessels despite total arterial inflow occlusion. These data thus challenge the premise that arterial inflow disease is a major cause of infrainguinal vein bypass occlusion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine