Bypass to the pedal arteries was performed with use of the operating microscope and standard microsurgical technique in 37 patients with severe, chronic ischemia of a lower extremity. Twenty-one patients (57%) had three or more cardiovascular risk factors, and 22 (59%) had diabetes. Preoperative arteriography identified a pedal artery suitable for bypass in all but one patient. The greater or lesser saphenous vein was used in all patients, most frequently as a nonreversed, translocated vein graft. An arm vein was used as part of a composite graft in only one patient. No early deaths occurred, and only one patient had a perioperative myocardial infarction. Although five grafts occluded within 30 days, four were successfully revised, and 36 patients had a patent graft at the time of dismissal from the hospital. At 1 year, the primary graft patency rate (patency without revision) was 60.8%, and the secondary patency rate was 68.8%. One early and six late amputations were performed; the cumulative 1-year limb salvage rate was 82.4%. Grafts with an intraoperative flow rate of 50 ml/min or more had a better patency rate than those with a lower flow rate. The presence of diabetes did not adversely affect long-term patency. Of the 34 patients who were alive at the time of this report, 27 (79%) had a functional foot that allowed ambulation, had no rest pain, and had no substantial loss of tissue. Pedal bypass should be considered for critical, chronic ischemia, even if the patient has an increased surgical risk and advanced distal atherosclerotic disease.
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