Infected lower extremity bypass grafts have been associated with high rates of limb loss. Traditionally treatment has included graft excision. To compare aggressive local treatment, without graft removal, with more conventional graft excision, we reviewed 38 consecutive patients with 39 infected lower extremity bypasses treated during the last 10 years. The grafts used were prosthetic in 33 cases, vein in 4, and composite in 2. Median follow-up was 2.7 years. Twenty-eight infected grafts were treated with either complete (14) or partial (14) graft removal. Nine new grafts were placed. Recurrent infection developed in five cases, and two patients died of complications of graft infection. Ten of 20 limbs at risk were lost. Eleven patients with patent bypasses (4 vein, 2 composite, 5 prosthetic) were treated without graft excision. Treatment of five patients in this group included muscle transposition. Five patients were treated with incision and drainage of abscesses, and one had excision of a persistent sinus tract. One patient underwent major amputation 6.3 years after treatment of graft infection. Limb salvage was significantly higher (p = 0.012, log-rank test) than in patients treated with graft excision. One patient died, and no recurrent infections developed; these were not significant differences compared with those having graft excision. We conclude that aggressive local treatment of infected lower extremity bypass grafts, including drainage, debridement, and muscle transposition may treat infection in selected patients without the need for graft removal and with rates of limb salvage superior to those obtained with excisional therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine