Completion arteriography is widely regarded as an essential component of infrainguinal bypasses. However, the significance of various intraluminal filling defects is poorly defined, and strategies for managing these defects are unclear. Completion arteriography was performed by a standard technique in 78 infrapopliteal bypasses and were evaluated prospectively for the presence of angiographic defects. Thirty-nine arteriograms (50%) had no visible abnormality (grade 0). Six arteriograms (8%) had minimal (grade I) defects, i.e., round lucencies (bubbles) or valve leaflets. Eighteen arteriograms (23%) had moderate (grade II) defects, i.e., uniform smooth tapering (up to 90% of luminal diameter) of the graft or outflow artery, irregular intraluminal filling defect (less than 60% of luminal diameter) within the distal graft or its adjacent outflow artery, or incomplete or faint graft opacification. Fifteen arteriograms (19%) had severe (grade III) defects, i.e., total cutoff of graft or outflow artery opacification or irregular intraluminal filling defect (greater than 60%) in the distal graft or adjacent outflow artery. Completion arteriograms were further stratified for type of bypass and outflow characteristics. All 24 bypasses with grade I or grade II defects on completion arteriography had no further surgical treatment. However, the 18 bypasses with grade II defects on completion arteriography had minimal nonsurgical manipulations consisting of repeat arteriography without or with papaverine infusion or urokinase instillation. In all 18, repeat arteriography showed improvement in the defect. The 15 bypasses with grade III defects had further surgical intervention (graftotomy, thrombectomy, vein patching, interposition graft, or graft extension). One-month and 1-year patency rates for grafts with grade I and grade II defects (87% and 79%, respectively) were not significantly worse than those for the 39 grafts with no arteriographic abnormalities (87% and 82%, respectively). In contrast, grafts with grade III defects had significantly worse (p<0.01) 1-month and 1-year patency rates (33% and 20%, respectively) despite aggressive surgical correction of the arteriographic defects. These results emphasize the value of repeat completion arteriography and minimal interventional strategies when grade I or II defects are seen on arteriography. The poor outcome with surgical correction of grade III defects suggests that completion arteriography may not always define the full extent of the problem or that the corrective surgical maneuvers were either incomplete or detrimental.
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