Current management of acute leg ischaemia: results of an audit by the vascular surgical society of Great Britain and Ireland




Management of acute leg ischaemia has changed in recent years. This study aimed to elucidate current practice throughout the UK and Ireland.


Surgeons and audit departments were asked to return a questionnaire about every episode of acute leg ischaemia seen in the hospital between 1 January and 31 March 1996.


A total of 539 episodes were reported in 474 patients (248 men) aged 19–96 (median 73) years. Common causes were thrombosis in situ (41 per cent), embolism (38 per cent) and graft or angioplasty occlusion (15 per cent). Vascular surgical advice was requested in 95 per cent of cases. Initial management was: immediate embolectomy in 21 per cent, anticoagulants in 13 per cent and no vascular intervention in 10 per cent. Arteriography was done in 56 per cent, followed by 186 endovascular and 165 surgical interventions. At 30 days, 70 per cent of limbs were definitely viable and 16 per cent had been amputated. The mortality rate was 22 per cent. Cases were reported by 86 of 182 hospitals contacted, but some referred no patients, and a supplementary audit of 54 cases (10 per cent size of the original sample) from non-contributing hospitals showed no important differences.


Patients with acute leg ischaemia are generally treated by vascular specialists, with modern methods and acceptable results. This is being achieved despite insufficient vascular surgeons and radiologists for formal emergency rotas in most hospitals. © 1998 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd