Arterial Restoration: more than just a pretty name

Progression
CTA on left shows occlusive plaque in SFA but contiguous plaque from external iliac origin into the popliteal artery. This was removed with EndoRE resulting in restoration of original artery patency -arteriogram on right. A single short stent was placed in the EIA origin and the above knee popliteal artery received a short stent as well.

This patient is a 90 plus year old man who developed ever worsening claudication to the point he was disabled and more worryingly, had developed pain over his left heel. His ABI’s were severely diminished.

preop ABI2

CTA showed that he had an occluded SFA with above knee reconstitute, but also had only single vessel runoff to the foot via a heavily diseased posterior tibial artery that had serial mild to moderate stenoses.

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An attempt at endovascular recanalization was performed at an outside institution, but the SFA lesion could not be crossed. Bypass was not a good option -the ipsilateral saphenous vein had been harvested for CABG, and a long operation was going to have a significant impact on this patient who also had mild dementia and drank 2-3 glasses of wine a day. It is not uncommon to have a successful operation, but have the patient lose 2-3 months in recovering from the physical effects of a long operation as well as from perioperative delirium.

I felt that removing the occlusive plaque from his arteries offered a minimally invasive solution. The plaque was easily accessible via an oblique, skin line incision in the groin, and clearance could be performed from the external iliac artery origin to the planned endpoint slightly beyond Hunter’s canal. While the outflow was not perfect, in my experience, aside from a single native vein bypass, long segment restoration of vessel elasticity results in very acceptable patency rates.

endoRE graphic

Remote endarterectomy is a bit of a lost art from the early days of vascular surgery. A ring dissector (Vollmer Ring Dissector, LeMaitre Vascular) is used to liberate the plaque from the remnant adventia. A cutting device (Moll Ring Cutter, LeMaitre Vascular) shown third from left below is used to divide the plaque.

LeMaitre

The common femoral artery plaque is usually contiguous with plaque in the external iliac artery and surgeons who perform a lot of CFA endarterectomy have various maneuvers to remove as much plaque as possible, up to stenting the end point of the plaque down to the endarterectomy patch. I have never been satisfied with this because the EIA behaves differenty than the CIA (am looking into this!) in my experience and placing stents even minimally across the inguinal ligament is not desirable. Sending the dissector up to the EIA origin frees the plaque to be removed completely with the CFA plaque. The clip below shows the Vollmer Ring dissecting plaque up to the EIA origin. I do this over a wire in the pelvis because in the rare instance of leak or rupture, rapid control is possible without having to open the abdomen.

Once freed, the cutter is used to transect the plaque and the end point is tacked down with a stent at the distal common iliac/EIA origin which is a better place for a stent than the inguinal ligament.

The PFA in this patient did not require endarterectomy and reconstruction, but if it did, I would have made the arteriotomy go onto the profunda from the CFA. The SFA plaque is then mobilized with the Vollmer ring. I don’t do this over a wire, but have a definite end point in mind based on what I see on CTA.

The CTA (images earlier) shows that the above knee popliteal artery has no significant calcified plaque. This doesn’t mean there isn’t fibrotic plaque. Cutting the plaque as in the clip below results in a coned in antegrade dissection which has to be crossed in the true lumen.

This is technically the most difficult part of the EndoRE procedure and it requires good imaging and wire skills. The trick here is that an ultrasound guided puncture of the popliteal or tibial vessel can give you distal true lumen access if needed. It was not necessary in this patient. The better maneuver is if the end point is surgically accessible is to cut down and tack down the plaque and patch the arteriotomy.

Angios -14

Angios -39

The patient regained multiphasic PT and DP signals at the end of the case, after the common femoral artery was patched and flow restored. The small groin incision was closed with a running absorbable monofilament after multilayer deep closure. The patient had a blood loss of 50mL. An ilioinguinal field block and local anesthesia provided excellent pain control. Postoperative ABI was improved to 0.82 from 0.34 and all pain was relieved. The patient felt good enough to go home on postoperative day 1.

postop PVR2

This illustrates what I feel to be a bestĀ applicationĀ of both open and endovascular techniques. The above knee popliteal stent is short and in a position that is not going to result in fracture. The external iliac stent is in a protected position in the pelvis and quite large -10mm, which I expect will stay open for the life of the patient. The profunda femoral artery, the rescue artery, is widely patent, and numerous collaterals off the SFA have been restored to patency which I feel aid in maintaining the patency of this repair, along with the restored elasticity of the artery which mimics the biomechanics of autologous vein.

In most patients with compromised outflow, I start warfarin along with ASA at 81mg. Because of his age, I opted for Plavix+ASA. These fail with the development of random TASC A restenoses along the SFA which are amenable to balloon angioplasty. The role of drug eluting balloons in this situation is unknown but theoretically promising. Occlusion through thrombosis does not result in embolization and limb loss as in failure of prosthetic bypass grafts (another option in this patient), but rather leaves a situation where endovascular thrombectomy or lysis is technically feasible.

The great thing is that this is by far superior to stenting of a TASC D femoral arterial lesion.

EndoRE-ABF -an alternative to the EndoABF which is in turn an alternative to the ABF.

  
The patient is 70 year old woman with prior history of smoking who developed severe claudication and near rest pain. She was unable to walk more than 50 feet before having to stop due to severe leg pain. On exam, neither femoral artery pulses were palpable. PVR’s (pulse volume recordings) and ABI’s (ankle brachial index) are shown below.

PVR pre2

PVR’s demonstrate the presence of severe inflow (aortoiliac occlusive disease or AIOD). CTA was acquired and the findings were consistent with the PVR’s.

preop centerline CTA composite

There was diffuse bilateral iliac atherosclerotic plaque with occlusion of the right common femoral artery and left common and external iliac artery. The 3DVR (three dimensional virtual reality) reconstruction image below shows this as well as the abdominal and pelvic wall collaterals feeding the legs around the occluded iliofemoral system.

Pre CTA

Plans were made to perform a hybrid common femoral and profunda femoral endarterectomy, remote external iliac artery endarterectomy (EndoRE), and common iliac artery stenting. The specific challenges to this case was getting into and staying in the true lumen. Typically, this is easiest to achieve from a left arm access with wires being pushed antegrade, but in a smaller person, particularly woman, this increases the chances for access site complications. My plan was to expose both common femoral arteries and get control of the external iliac arteries at the inguinal ligament and the profunda femoral arteries at the point the proximal plaque dissipated -typically at the second branch point, and then get micropuncture access of the right iliac system by accessing from the common femoral plaque. This would give me true lumen access, and with a sheath and curved catheter (VCF in this case, but a similarly shaped OMNI Flush catheter would do as well), wire access up and across the occluded left iliac system could be achieved and the wire retrieved from the left common femoral artery. This up and over access with the wire allows for control of the aortic bifurcation and both iliac systems.

I perform EndoRE over this wire -this allows for quick access if the artery is ruptured. To minimize blood loss, I gain control of the common femoral artery in the following fashion -a 4cm segment of common femoral artery is left intact and looped above the inferior epigastrics -this loop is brought out in the lateral lower quadrant of the abdomen so that the loop doesn’t travel distally over the arteriotomy. The second loop adjacent to the arteriotomy is sent through periadventitial tissues behind the artery to keep the loop migrating over the arteriotomy. The arteriotomy is created from the distal CFA (common femoral artery) onto the profunda femoral artery (PFA) where the endarterectomy is started. A separate arteriotomy on the superficial femoral artery (SFA) allows me to divide the plaque and mobilize the proximal segment up to the SFA origin, freeing the CFA plaque in this manner. It also gives me the option to perform EndoRE of the SFA if warranted. The dissected plaque and system of loops which I call the blood lock is shown below:

  
The yellow loops are major control points (the blood lock loop is drawn in the picture above) and the red loops are around smaller branch arteries. At this point, micropuncture access through the plaque core was achieved into the true lumen of the yet patent EIA (external iliac artery, picture below).

 
The right EIA plaque was mobilized with a Vollmer ring dissector, and cut with a Moll ring cutter (LeMaitre).

 

This allowed for cutting and removal of the plaque. 

  
Up and over access and control of the wire from the contralateral (left) arteriotomy allowed for EndoRE on the other side. The occluded left common iliac plaque was ballooned and wire access into the aorta from the left was achieved. 

  

Kissing balloon angioplasty was performed with revascularization of the aortoiliac bifurcation and common iliac arteries. 

  

The stents were extended across the dissected end points of the external iliac artery origins. The arteriotomies were closed with bovine pericardial patches. Because the PFA were of small caliber, to avoid narrowing the distal end of the patch, the patches were sewn over Argyll shunts which also allowed perfusion of the legs during the suturing of the patches. The loops made this a straighforward maneuver. 

The completed CFA to PFA patch on the left is shown below:

  

Closure involved reapproximating the Scarpa’s type investing fascia of the femoral triangle and a running dermal layer of absorbable monofilament, dressed with a surgical glue. No drains were used, but if needed, they would be exited through the counter incisions created for the EIA loops. 

The patient recovered well. I always use cell salvage -sometimes, profundaplasties can be bloody, particularly if they are in reoperative fields. The ABI’s and PVR’s at the ankles improved significantly.

  The postoperative CTA shows good results as well. Below is the composite right and left centerline from aorta to the PFA’s. 

  
The 3DVR reconstruction images are shown below, with the comparison to preop shown in the first image of this blog entry:

  
The pre and postoperative images of the centerlines (composited) are shown below:

  
EndoABF is an established hybrid procedure involving an open endarterectomy of the common femoral and PFA/SFA with iliac balloon angioplasty and stenting, often taking the stents distally into the CFA and the patch to deal with complex distal EIA plaque. This procedure, which would be an EndoRE ABF, offers some advantages in eliminating the need for EIA stents which are often placed across the inguinal ligament and into the patch during EndoABF. In my experience, the EIA EndoRE performed as an extension of a CFA endarterectomy is safe, and made even safer by performing the EndoRE over a wire. Published results from Europe shows for TASC C and D disease, EIA EndoRE has excellent patency, and I would expect the same here. EndoRE and Endo ABF both offer advantages over traditional ABF, particularly in patients with medical comorbidities. 

  

Should the SFA be revascularized during an inflow procedure?

Sketches - 12

The patient is a 70 year old man who arrived with complaints of worsening claudication, worse on the left leg. He smokes over a pack a day. On exam, he only had femoral pulses, nothing was palpable below. PVR showed multilevel disease with an ABI of 0.42 on the left leg.

PVR preop

CTA was done showing that both his SFA and PFA were occluded, along with occlusion of his AT in the mid leg, and tibioperoneal trunk.

cta TIBIAL_1

There is a reconstitution point on the PFA, and there is also SFA constitution. Looking at this, it was apparent to me that it would be possible to endarterectomize the whole of the iliofemoral and femoropopliteal system from a single groin incision, but the question being, would a profundaplasty be sufficient.

Arrow points to calcium free terminus for SFA EndoRE
Arrow points to calcium free terminus for SFA EndoRE

The textbook answer is profundaplasty, but given my experience with endarterectomy, it has become apparent that removing all the plaque, including CFA and iliofemoral plaque reduces the chance that clamp injury and stenosis occur, and that placed in the common iliac system have better patency than those placed in the external iliac, particularly crossing the inguinal ligament into a patch.

The other observation is that with this exposure, SFA remote endarterectomy is very simple to do, but becomes more difficult in a redo situation. The only problem with going ahead with it is that the runoff is poor -all three tibial vessels occlude, but a very robust posterior tibial artery reconstitutes proximally from well developed collaterals.

The CFA, PFA, and SFA were exposed as shown in my sketch at the beginning of the post. Wire access up and over from the right side allowed for secure control of the aortoiliac segment. The endarterectomy was started from the PFA reconstitution point and the CFA plaque was mobilized. The SFA plaque was transected in a proximal arteriotomy and the plaque was mobilized with a ring to its origin. The CFA plaque then was mobilized with the ring dissector over a wire (for security in case of rupture), up to the EIA origin and cut.

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The distal SFA plaque was endarterectomized to the planned end point above the knee joint.

Image-4

The specimen is shown below.

specimen

The arteriotomies were repaired with patches. The common iliac artery was stented to improve the flow. The SFA end point was managed with a stent, placed proximal to the first large geniculate collateral.

prepost sfa endpoint

Completion angiograms show widely patent EIA, CFA, PFA, and SFA

Completion

The patient recovered and was discharged on POD#3. His postop ABI’s are shown below.

ABI post2

They are improved compared to preop, with ABI’s of 0.65. Notably, he did have a weakly palpable posterior tibial artery pulse, and multiphasic signals in all three tibial vessels. While I don’t know if the SFA revascularization will stay open, I am confident the PFA will, and this will keep him from his symptoms recurring and is a durable procedure.

Ideally, if he had needed a distal revascularization, a vein bypass would be the answer, but in the setting of inadequate conduit, it is very simple to endarterectomize from the below knee popliteal artery the remaining plaque and either patch to the patent tibioperoneal trunk or perform a short POP to posterior tibial artery bypass. He did not require this.

I don’t know the answer to the titular question, but in the setting of an inflow procedure, the best chance at opening the SFA is during the inflow procedure because of the exposure, and it is very simple to do when the lesion is minimally calcified.

Removing Occluded Stents For Critical Limb Ischemia

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The patient severe claudication and nocturnal rest pain and had undergone an inflow procedure at another hospital consisting of a common femoral endarterectomy and a single stent to the external iliac artery near its origin from the iliac bifurcation. He also had undergone a concurrent SFA atherectomy which closed and was treated with SFA stents extending from the SFA origin to the above knee popliteal artery. Unfortunately, his rest pain worsened.

ABI2

On exam, he had a femoral pulse only and no distal pulses, only monophonic and weak pedal signals. The right groin wound had been treated for postoperative wound infection and there was still some swelling and a stitch abscess, but no deep infection. CTA showed that his profunda femoral artery had a focal dissection or stenosis at the origin along with overhang of his SFA stents across the origin of the PFA. The SFA stents were occluded along their whole length. There was remnant disease of the external iliac artery as well.

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There was reconstitution of a diseased but patent above knee popliteal artery with three vessel runoff. He had had harvest of his greater saphenous vein. Treatment options included multisegment arm vein with redo profundaplasty, but given the inflammation around his recently operated, recently infected groin, I was concerned for wound infection. He was also quite disabled by his worsened pain. The other option was to access the left common femoral artery and placed a sheath up and over and wire across the diseased profunda and intervene on it, but with the stent in place, I would have to place likely another stent across the origin. I could then attempt a bypass with arm vein or prosthetic graft using this compromised artery as inflow for a bypass to the below knee popliteal artery or a tibial vessel but I doubted this would be durable, nor resistant to infection if prosthetic was used.

Remote endarterectomy (EndoRE) gave me a third option. It is a hybrid technique, but based on an old and established technique of open remote endarterectomy dating from the 60’s. Rings (Vollmer Rings, LeMaitre Vascular) are used to dissect occlusive plaque under fluoroscopy, and a cutting ring (Moll Ring Cutter, LeMaitre Vascular) is used to cut the plaque at the chosen location. Because the distal end point of dissection is not surgically exposed, but rather fluoroscopically guided, it is termed Remote Endarterectomy. Wire skills are required to access and repair any dissections that may occur.

I have presented in the past a series of cases where I removed occluded stents. Because the dissection is carried out outside the plaque, it is also outside the stent. Retrograde EndoRE of SFA plaque can be carried out up to the SFA origin, and avoid a groin incision which in this case was important. Therefore, a proximal thigh exposure of the SFA and EndoRE was planned with endovascular access by left CFA as described.

Photo Apr 15, 10 08 52 AM

The SFA was a hard, calcified pipe and control was achieved with vessel loops which allow passage of the ring and occlusion of the artery once the plaque and stents were removed. The artery was opened via longitudinal arrteriotomy and the plaque mobilized and divided. The proximal SFA plaque was then dissected (above and below).

proximal dissection

There was immediate establishment of a robust pulse in the proximal SFA after removal of the plaque.

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Distally, the plaque would not mobilize at a point in the artery where there was laxity in the artery and especially adherent plaque and therefore, the distal SFA was cut down on to reaccess the stent from below.

Cutdown to reaccess plaque, basically a reversion to the original pre-endovascular technique.
Cutdown to reaccess plaque, basically a reversion to the original pre-endovascular technique.
Mobilizing stent from above and below
Mobilizing stent from above and below
The distal plaque was cut with a Moll Ring Cutter. The removed specimen in total is below.Photo Apr 15, 12 03 16 PM

The arteriotomies were repaired with patch angioplasties using bovine pericardium. This allowed for completing the procedure with endovascular techniques which included the distal end point dissection, profunda stenosis, and external iliac stenosis.

Distal end point managed with self expanding stent.
Distal end point managed with self expanding stent.
PFA

EIA

At completion, there was a palpable dorsalis pedis artery pulse. The composite angio with preop CTA centerline reconstruction are shown below.

completion

He had relief of his symptoms. Prior to discharge, ABI and PVR’s show normalization of flow to his foot.

Image-2

Conclusion: In my experience, the longevity of these lesions is dependent on the same factors dictating other revascularizations -excellence of inflow, optimization of profunda outflow, and good tibial outflow. The conduit, being the recanalized original artery, is not as good as a single vein, but it remodels and becomes normal artery based on micro pathology. Failure occurs at the stent with the usual restenosis that can occur in some but not all people, and in isolated points in the artery where likely remnant tissues scar creating focal lesions. Frequent surveillance achieves acceptable primary and secondary patencies. Thromboses do occur. Unlike PTFE grafts, thromboses in EndoRE is usually limited to the recanalized artery without distal embolization. Stent removal is challenging but feasible. In this patient, a second cut down was required to achieve plaque and stent removal. The groin was not re-entered, avoiding dissection in a recently infected, surgical wound. If the popliteal was occluded, a popliteal endarterectomy via a below knee cutdown is possible achieving total femoropopliteal plaque clearance, and the below knee popliteal artery can then be used for a very short bypass to one of the tibial arteries if indicated and if autologous vein is limited in availability.

EndoRE offers a third option after bypass and intervention and should be in a vascular surgeon’s armamentarium.