Vascular. 2013 Mar 21.

Cryopreserved saphenous vein allograft for infragenicular bypass in the presence of foot infection.

Methodius-Rayford W, Combs JM, Wellons ED, Poindexter JM Jr, Rosenthal D.

Atlanta Medical Center, Department of Vascular Surgery, Atlanta, GA, USA.



We report our distal bypass experience with cryopreserved saphenous vein allograft (CSVA) in 12 patients presenting with infection and no autologous saphenous vein available. Twelve patients underwent 13 arterial reconstructions. The mean age of the cohort was 68.4 years. Ninety-two percent (92%) of the patients presented with Rutherford Class 5 or 6 disease which required wide debridement and copious irrigation of all infected tissue beds. All distal anastomoses were to infragenicular vessels. Two patients died with patent grafts during follow-up for an 83% survival rate. Three grafts failed during follow-up between one and 36.3 months, of which two underwent amputation for an 82% limb salvage rate. The primary and primary assisted patency rate was 40% and 60% at 18 months follow-up, respectively, and no recurrent infections. In patients who have complex risk factors and the presence of infection, CSVA appears to be a reasonable option for limb salvage.

PMID: 23518848



Autogenous greater saphenous vein is the bypass conduit of choice for infrainguinal reconstruction. In the presence of infection when autogenous vein is unavailable due to multiple previous operations having exhausted the supply, the risk of major limb loss or death is high.(1-3) Cryopreserved saphenous vein allograft (CSVA) yields satisfactory patency and limb salvage rates when no autogenous vein is available.(4-8) This report describes our recent experience with the use of CSVA for salvage of the limb in the setting of infection.

Cryopreserved human allografts offer the patient an alternative to amputation in these “last resort” settings. All cryopreserved human saphenous vein allografts were obtained from CryoLife®, Inc. (Kennesaw, GA) and were prepared following manufacturer’s instructions. Wide debridement and copious irrigation was performed on all infected tissue beds. All patients were donor matched to recipient blood groups. All patients were administered perioperative broad-spectrum antibiotics until specific organism cultures were available. Post-operative anticoagulation was not used; all patients received antiplatelet agents.

The indication for operation was limb salvage in all patients and all patients were designated as Rutherford Class 5 and 6.(9) Twelve patients underwent 13 infrainguinal bypasses with CSVA. Two patients died with open grafts during follow-up at 9 (multi-system organ failure) and 52 days (homicide) postoperatively which corresponds to an 83% survival rate during follow-up. Three grafts failed during follow-up between 1 and 36.3 months (mean 11.7 ± 3.3 months). Two of these patients underwent amputation for an 82% limb salvage rate (Figure 1); the third patient was being followed in the wound clinic, but the prognosis was poor. The primary cumulative patency rate as determined by Kaplan-Meier analysis is 40% (± 20%) and the primary assisted patency 60% (± 19%) at 18 months follow-up (Figure 1). To obtain this primary assisted patency rate on failing grafts, one patient underwent PTA/stent angioplasty and one patch angioplasty.

Arterial reconstruction in the presence of lower extremity infection remains among the most challenging problems in vascular surgery, with amputation rates approaching 40%.(10) In the infected field, autogenous tissue is the best conduit for arterial reconstruction, but autographs are not always available, especially in the “arteriopath” patient who have had multiple previous lower extremity operations. As previously reported,(11) ABO-blood group are matched between donor and recipient, although potential clinical impact is difficult to ascertain due to the small patient numbers.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of cryopreserved human allograft for limb salvage arterial reconstruction in the setting of infection. An allograft conduit which is resistant to infection, readily available and can be placed in an expedient manner in these “high risk” limb salvage patients is attractive. In this high risk, complex patient population, there were two perioperative deaths. Donker (12) recently reported 2-year primary and primary assisted patency of 34% and 36%, respectively, with ePTFE pre-cuffed bypass grafts in the infragenicular location with a corresponding 59% limb salvage rate. Relative to these outcomes, our 40% primary patency and 60% primary assisted patency at 18 months follow-up attained an 82% limb salvage rate. Of note, amongst the three patients whose grafts failed, two had both diabetes and chronic renal failure. In this subset of inordinate high risk limb loss patients, primary amputation may be warranted, but a larger sample size is needed to make this judgment. Clearly the CVSA, while patent, helped heal the infected wounds with comparable outcomes to other previously reported allograft series.(11) In this difficult, complex patient population, CSVA appears to be a reasonable alternative to a major limb amputation. Larger patient populations and longer follow-up are needed to determine if this arterial reconstruction with CSVA is safe and durable enough to salvage limbs in the presence of infection. The continued use of CSVA in this setting appears warranted.



Walaya Methodius-Rayford
Georgia Vascular Specialists
1718 Peachtree Street, Suite 360
Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: 404-350-9505

Methodius-Rayford fig corrected Fig 1. Kaplan-Meier analysis for primary patency and limb salvage


Fig 2. Distal anastomosis, posterior tibial artery



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