Background: Patency of failed axillofemoral (ax-fem) grafts following thrombectomy is so poor, aortofemoral grafts are recommended as treatment for ax-fem graft thrombosis. In patients who are not candidates for aortic grafting, repeat ax-fem grafting is an alternative to thrombectomy. This report compares our experience treating ax-fem graft thrombosis with replacement or revision vs thrombectomy. Methods: Patients treated with ax-fem grafts from October 1985 to April 2001 were identified, and those who underwent reoperation for thrombosis were reviewed. Limb salvage and patency of revision procedures (thrombectomy vs repeat ax-fem grafting) were determined using Kaplan-Meier curves. Results: Three hundred thirty-five patients underwent ax-fem grafting, and 39 (11.6%) of the 335 required reoperation for graft failure. Twenty-five of these 39 patients had 51 operations for graft thrombosis: 42 graft replacements and/or anastomotic revision(s), and 9 thrombectomies. At 18 months, mean ± SD patency following thrombectomy was 11% ± 10%, while that for graft replacement or anastomotic revision was 54% ± 8% (P<.001). Limb salvage at 18 months following revision for thrombosis was 88% ± 5%. Conclusions: The large majority of ax-fem grafts do not require reoperation. For failure due to thrombosis, repeat ax-fem grafting provides excellent limb salvage. Axillofemoral graft replacement and/or anastomotic revision has superior patency to thrombectomy.
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