Impact of Duplex Arteriography in the Evaluation of Acute Lower Limb Ischemia from Thrombosed Popliteal Aneurysms

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Acute limb-threatening ischemia from thrombosis may be the initial presentation of popliteal artery aneurysms (PAA) and is associated with amputation rates of 20-30%. Since contrast angiography may miss the diagnosis, the authors suspect that thrombosis of PAA may be an underappreciated cause of acute ischemia. Routine use of duplex arteriography (DA) may aid in the diagnosis and may help identify the outflow vessels with improved results. One hundred and nine patients (group 1) from 1994 to 1997 and 201 patients from 1998 to 2001 (group 2) presenting with acute limb-threatening ischemia were studied. None of the group 1 patients underwent preoperative DA and no diagnosis of acute popliteal artery aneurysm thrombosis was made. Ten patients with acute ischemia due to thrombosed popliteal artery aneurysms were identified in group 2 when preoperative DA was routinely performed. Urgent revascularization based on the results from DA was performed with use of autogenous saphenous vein in all patients. Six patients had functioning bypasses with a mean follow-up of 15.6 months. There were 3 deaths, 2 within 30 days and 1 after 2½ years with functioning grafts. One patient was lost to follow-up. No major amputations were performed. Incidence of thrombosed popliteal artery aneurysms as the cause of acute limb-threatening ischemia is probably underestimated. Routine use of DA may provide the diagnosis and identifies the available outflow vessels. Contrary to previously published reports, urgent revascularization of an acutely ischemic extremity from thrombosed popliteal aneurysm can provide excellent rates of limb salvage.

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