The axiflofemoral bypass graft (AxFG) is increasingly accepted as treatment for lower extremity ischemia caused by aortoiliac occlusive disease in high-risk patients. The incidence of upper extremity (UE) thromboembolism caused by occlusion of an AxFG and the results of treatment form the basis for this report. From 1984 to the present, all patients undergoing axillofemoral bypass grafting were followed up in a vascular registry. A standardized operative technique, using an externally supported 8-mm polytetrafluoroethylene graft, was used in performing 202 AxFGs in 182 patients. UE thromboembolism caused by occlusion of an AxFG was identified by retrospective patient record review. Occlusion of an AxFG occurred in 20 patients. Fifteen patients (75%) underwent immediate revision of the occluded graft. Two patients (10%) developed UE thromboembolism simultaneous with graft occlusion. One of these patients had immediate revision of the graft, and 1 had brachial embolectomy only. This patient and 4 others (25%) had the occluded AxFG left in place. Four of these 5 patients (80%) developed UE thromboembolism at 26 days, 2 years, 5 years, and 7 years, respectively, after occlusion. Overall, six UE thromboembolic complications occurred in 5 patients. UE thromboembolism represents a significant and specific complication of occluded AxFGs in our series (2.7% of patients, 25% of occluded grafts). It may be prudent to prophylactically detach the axillary portion of the graft and repair the axillary artery in patients who do not require immediate revision of an occluded AxFG.
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