BACKGROUND: Acute peripheral arterial occlusions threaten life and limb. Thrombolysis is an established, minimally invasive alternative treatment for surgical thromboembolectomy. Yet, there is no consensus regarding an optimal thrombolysis protocol and current knowledge is largely based on studies from the 1990's. This study reviews a contemporary cohort of patients treated with thrombolysis and aims to evaluate the treatment results and to identify possible predictors for outcome and (bleeding) complications.
METHODS: The electronic health record data of all consecutive patients who underwent thrombolysis for acute limb ischemia due to thromboembolic lower extremity arterial occlusions between April 2006-June 2012, were analyzed. Endpoints were change in clinical stage of ischemia, incidence of bleeding complications, duration of thrombolysis, predictors of outcome and -complications and mortality and amputation-free rates after 30-day and 6-months follow-up.
RESULTS: In total 109 cases were included. Clinical improvement was observed in 79%. Amputation-free rates at 30-days and 6 months were 94% and 90% respectively. The incidence of major bleeding complications was 13%. Median duration of thrombolysis was 27 (4-68) hours. Mortality rates at 30-days and 6-months were 7% and 16% respectively; none bleeding related. In addition to age, popliteal artery occlusions and a progressed chronic vascular stage are predictive for a worse outcome. Age, female sex and cardiac history were risk factors for bleeding.
CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of peripheral arterial occlusions with high dose thrombolysis on an intensive-care unit yields high clinical success rates but major bleeding complications are often observed. Strict clinical observation remains essential since intensive monitoring of haemostatic parameters during thrombolysis doesn't predict bleeding complications.