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Verzini F. 1, De Rango P. 1, Isernia G. 1, Simonte G. 1, Farchioni L. 1, Cao P. 2
1 Unit of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, S. Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Perugia, Italy:
2 Unit of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Department of Cardiosciences, San Camillo-Forlanini Hospital, Rome, Italy
Even though differences between first-bypass vs. first-endovascular approach in below the knee (BTK) lesions have never been adequately compared, endovascular strategy first approach can be currently successfully used to treat BTK lesions in patients with critical limb ischemia (CLI). Success however is strongly associated with risk groups, severity of disease and degree of clinical presentation beside the method of revascularization. From available data, the best results of endovascular first approach for BTK lesions can be achieved with multivessel and tibial (more than peroneal alone) recanalization and Rutherford 4 or 5 ischemia changes, especially if the correct angiosome can be revascularized (direct flow to the feeding artery of the foot) and there is no renal failure. For patients in Rutherford class 6 and extensive gangrene/tissue loss, BTK endovascular strategy alone does not seem to provide ideal results. Outcomes of interventional therapy for BTK lesions are consistently better when applied in experienced centers with the use of more advanced technology and use of eluting materials. According to limited but randomized evidence, drug-eluting stent (DES) placement might be recommended in BTK lesions under 40 mm long since yields significantly better results than angioplasty alone or implantation of bare metal stents in this lesion subset. Nevertheless, this policy raises doubts on the efficacy of treatment due to limitations in generalizability of outcomes in common hospital settings and related costs. Furthermore, there are still no consistent numbers to provide the efficacy of this approach and long-term data are lacking. Waiting for the long-term results of ongoing trials and new researches, a more comprehensive analysis of outcomes with BTK endovascular first strategy can be provided in the next future.