Graft patency is thought to correlate with resistance in the runoff bed or outflow resistance. However, accurate measurement of this parameter has been difficult. A simple and reproducible method for direct measurement of outflow resistance following completion of the distal anastomosis of a bypass graft has been developed. This method employs injection of a fixed amount of normal saline through the proximal end of the graft and measurement of the resulting integrated pressure increment by an analog computer. Division of this pressure integral by the volume injected is a measure of the outflow resistance expressed in resistance units (mm Hg/ml/min). The median outflow resistance in 31 femoropopliteal bypasses was 0.29 units with a range of 0.08-1.38 units. The median outflow resistance in 33 femorodistal bypasses was 0.7 units with a range of 0.18-2.34 units. All bypasses with an outflow resistance of 1.1 units or less remained patent for 3 months. There were 51 grafts in this group (30 femoropopliteal; 21 femorodistal) and their outflow resistance ranged from 0.08 to 1.1 units. All bypasses with an outflow resistance of 1.2 units or higher thrombosed within the first postoperative month. There were 13 grafts in this group (1 femoropopliteal; 12 femorodistal) and their outflow resistance ranged from 1.2 to 2.38 units. Eight of the 13 grafts that failed originally were subjected to thrombectomy, which was uniformly unsuccessful. Although this method does not yet allow bypass surgery to be denied to any patient, it does define a group of patients in whom thrombectomy will not be effective and should not be attempted. Moreover, future correlation of preoperative parameters with high outflow resistance as determined by this method may define a group of patients in whom arterial reconstructions have no chance of success.
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