Thrombolysis in the Treatment of Peripheral Arterial Vascular Occlusions

Walter A. Koltun, Geoffrey A. Gardiner, Donald P. Harrington, Nathan P. Couch, John A. Mannick, Anthony D. Whittemore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The efficacy of thrombolytic agents in the management of peripheral arterial disease remains unclear. We reviewed our experience with 64 consecutive episodes of limb-threatening graft or native vessel occlusions. The overall success rate was 59%, with a major complication/mortality rate of 28%. Thrombolytic therapy in patients with occluded vascular grafts required identification of a causative lesion and subsequent adjunctive management with percutaneous transluminal angioplasty or surgery for sustained patency (64%). In contrast, approximately 70% of native vessel occlusions maintained patency whether a causative lesion was identified and corrected or not. Patients who failed thrombolytic therapy had a worse prognosis overall, with 38% undergoing primary amputation, although patients with reconstructable occlusions still had a 64% salvage rate at six months. The review demonstrated that thrombolytic therapy continues to be a useful adjunct in treating the patient with peripheral vascular occlusion, although a significant risk of major complications persists. Patients with graft occlusions successfully treated with thrombolysis require correction of any precipitating lesions for long-term limb salvage, while careful management of patients failing thrombolysis can still achieve significant limb salvage in selected cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-905
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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