Purpose: Recent studies suggest that subcutaneous low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) is a safe, effective alternative to intravenous heparin (IVH) for deep venous thrombosis. LMWH may also be a safe, effective alternative to IVH when necessary for lower extremity bypass procedures performed with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) grafts. The purpose of this study was to compare subcutaneous LMWH with IVH for perioperative anticoagulation in patients who underwent infrageniculate bypass procedures with PTFE grafts. Methods: Of 361 lower extremity bypass operations performed at a single center over a 32-month period, 76 were to the tibial or below-knee levels using PTFE grafts for limb salvage. Seven patients were excluded because of absolute indications for perioperative IVH (ventricular thrombus in 1 patient, prosthetic valve in 2, cardiac dysrhythmia in 2, and documented hypercoagulable syndrome in 2), leaving 68 patients (35 women; mean age, 69.8 years) with 69 bypass procedures for study. Grafts completed in the past 16 months were treated with LMWH (28 grafts; Oct. 1994 to Jan. 1996) and were compared with 41 consecutive control grafts from the previous 16-month interval (Apr. 1993 to Oct. 1994) who received IVH. There were similar percentages of composite bypasses (IVH, 50%; LMWH, 46%), patients with tissue loss or gangrene (IVH, 56%; LMWH, 61%), and patients with prior ipsilateral bypass (IVH, 57%; LMWH, 56%) in each group. Age, sex, and atherosclerotic risk factors were also similar between the two groups. Results: Morbidity rates (IVH, 19%; LMWH, 11%) and mortality rates (IVH, 2.5%; LMWH, 4%) were not significantly different. There were no significant differences in the number of grafts that failed before discharge (IVH, 1; LMWH, 0) or percentage of hemorrhagic complications (IVH, 15%; LMWH, 7%). The mean number of postoperative hospital days (IVH, 9.5; LMWH, 7.2; p < 0.009) and coagulation monitoring studies (IVH, 22; LMWH, 8.4; p <: 0.0001) were significantly decreased in patients who were anticoagulated with LMWH. The mean number of days before conversion to oral anticoagulation (IVH, 7.3; LMWH, 8.0) did not differ significantly. Conclusions: When perioperative anticoagulation is deemed necessary, LMWH provides a safe, effective alternative to IVH for infrageniculate PTFE bypass grafting procedures. LMWH may reduce the number of postoperative hospital days and coagulation studies by allowing discharge before therapeutic anticoagulation with warfarin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine