The optimal strategy for revascularization in infrainguinal chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI) remains debatable. Comparative trials are scarce, and daily decisions are often made using anecdotal or low-quality evidence.Methods:
We searched multiple databases through May 7, 2017, for prospective studies with at least 1-year follow-up that evaluated patient-relevant outcomes of infrainguinal revascularization procedures in adults with CLTI. Independent pairs of reviewers selected articles and extracted data. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to pool outcomes across studies.Results:
We included 44 studies that enrolled 8602 patients. Periprocedural outcomes (mortality, amputation, major adverse cardiac events) were similar across treatment modalities. Overall, patients with infrapopliteal disease had higher patency rates of great saphenous vein graft at 1 and 2 years (primary: 87%, 78%; secondary: 94%, 87%, respectively) compared with all other interventions. Prosthetic bypass outcomes were notably inferior to vein bypass in terms of amputation and patency outcomes, especially for below knee targets at 2 years and beyond. Drug-eluting stents demonstrated improved patency over bare-metal stents in infrapopliteal arteries (primary patency: 73% vs 50% at 1 year), and was at least comparable to balloon angioplasty (66% primary patency). Survival, major amputation, and amputation-free survival at 2 years were broadly similar between endovascular interventions and vein bypass, with prosthetic bypass having higher rates of limb loss. Overall, the included studies were at moderate to high risk of bias and the quality of evidence was low.Conclusions:
There are major limitations in the current state of evidence guiding treatment decisions in CLTI, particularly for severe anatomic patterns of disease treated via endovascular means. Periprocedural (30-day) mortality, amputation, and major adverse cardiac events are broadly similar across modalities. Patency rates are highest for saphenous vein bypass, whereas both patency and limb salvage are markedly inferior for prosthetic grafting to below the knee targets. Among endovascular interventions, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty and drug-eluting stents appear comparable for focal infrapopliteal disease, although no studies included long segment tibial lesions. Heterogeneity in patient risk, severity of limb threat, and anatomy treated renders direct comparison of outcomes from the current literature challenging. Future studies should incorporate both limb severity and anatomic staging to best guide clinical decision making in CLTI.