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Intraprocedural Distal Embolization After Femoropopliteal Angioplasty: Is There a Role for Below-the-Knee Stents?

  • Clinical Investigation
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Intraprocedural distal embolization is an accepted complication of femoropopliteal angioplasty. The purpose of this study is to assess the use of below-the-knee stents in the “bail-out” of conventional methods.

Materials and Methods

We retrospectively reviewed 1485 of femoropopliteal angioplasties that were performed in our centre in a 4-year period and analysed 12 cases (<1%) where distal embolization that required further intervention occurred. In all cases lesions were chronic and 75% suffered from critical limb ischaemia. The target vessel was the SFA in all of the cases with a long (>10 cm) occlusion in 50%. A three-vessel run-off was present in only 25%. Patients that received a stent as a limb salvage attempt were analysed. Outcome measures were technical success, clinical success and procedure-related complications. Multivariate regression analysis of the factors related to stenting was also performed.


In 41% of the cases with distal embolization, recanalization with aspiration, thrombolysis or angioplasty offered a satisfactory result. In 59%, conventional methods were ineffective; a stent was deployed in 85%, whereas in 15% surgical embolectomy was required. Technical and clinical success of the stent cases was 100% without any procedure-related complications. There was significance (p < 0.05) between critical limb ischaemia and stenting; single-vessel run-off has also shown a positive trend (p = 0.88).


Stents appear as a valid salvage option for infragenicular distal embolization when conventional methods fail; the likelihood of having to use a stent is higher for patients with critical limb ischaemia and a single-vessel run-off.

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Correspondence to Miltiadis Krokidis.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Krokidis, M., Ali, T., Hilliard, N. et al. Intraprocedural Distal Embolization After Femoropopliteal Angioplasty: Is There a Role for Below-the-Knee Stents?. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol 40, 1155–1163 (2017).

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