Revascularization for claudication: Changing the natural history of a benign disease!

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Journal of vascular surgery : official publication, the Society for Vascular Surgery [and] International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery, North American Chapter


INTRODUCTION: The benign natural history of intermittent claudication (IC) was first documented in 1960 and has been reconfirmed in several subsequent studies. Excellent outcomes in patients with IC can be achieved with exercise therapy and optimal medical management. Professional society guidelines have clearly stated that revascularization procedures should be performed only in patients with incapacitating claudication who have failed conservative therapy. Despite these guidelines, revascularization procedures, primarily percutaneous interventions, have been increasingly utilized in patients with claudication. Many of these patients are not even offered an attempt at medical therapy, and those who are often do not undergo a full course of treatment. Many studies document significant reintervention rates following revascularization, which are associated with increased rates of acute and chronic limb ischemia that may result in significant rates of amputation. The objectives of this study were to compare outcomes of conservative therapy to those seen in patients undergoing revascularization procedures and to determine the impact of revascularization on the natural history of claudication.

METHODS: Google Scholar and PubMed were searched for manuscripts on the conservative management of claudication and for those reporting outcomes following revascularization for claudication.

RESULTS: Despite early improvement in claudication symptoms following revascularization, multiple studies have demonstrated that long-term outcomes following revascularization are often no better than those obtained with conservative therapy. High reintervention rates (up to 43% for tibial atherectomies) result in high rates of both acute and chronic limb ischemia as compared to those patients undergoing medical therapy. In addition, amputation rates as high as 11% on long-term follow-up are seen in in patients undergoing early revascularization. These patients also have a higher incidence of adverse cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarctions compared to patients treated medically.

CONCLUSIONS: Revascularization procedures negatively impact the natural history of claudication often resulting in multiple interventions, an increase in the incidence of acute and chronic limb ischemia and an increased risk of amputation. Accordingly, informed consent requires that all patients undergoing early revascularization must be appraised of the potential negative impact of revascularization on the natural history of claudication.





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