To evaluate the results of a recent change in practice in our institution using cutting balloon angioplasty instead of standard balloon angioplasty as the primary treatment for failing infra-inguinal vein bypass grafts.
In this nonrandomized cohort study with a historical control, failing infra-inguinal vein grafts were identified at duplex surveillance or clinical examination. Patients had confirmatory arteriography and balloon angioplasty at the same attendance. Interventions proximal or distal to the graft itself and prosthetic grafts were not included. Patients were entered into a duplex graft surveillance program. Initial assessment of technical success was duplex or improvement 4-6 weeks after the primary angioplasty.
Twenty-seven consecutive patients were treated with standard balloon angioplasty, then 11 consecutive patients were treated with cutting balloon angioplasty. Initial technical success was 74% for the standard balloon versus 82% for the cutting balloon. The primary patency rate at 6 months was 16/26 (62%) for standard balloon angioplasty and 8/10 (80%) for cutting balloon angioplasty (p = 0.44). The primary patency rate at 12 months was 9/25 (36%) for standard balloon angioplasty and 5/10 (50%) for cutting balloon angioplasty (p = 0.47).
The use of cutting balloons for primary angioplasty of infra-inguinal vein grafts offers no definite advantage over standard balloon angioplasty in this institution or compared with patency rates after standard balloon angioplasty reported elsewhere. Larger multicenter studies would be required to demonstrate whether there was any real difference between the two techniques.