Limitations of intra-arterial thrombolysis

M. J F X Rickard, C. M. Fisher*, C. V. Soong, D. T A Hardman, R. J. Lane, M. Appleberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy, costs and complications of acutely ischaemic limbs initially treated with urokinase-induced thrombolysis, and to compare the subsequent patencies of occluded native arteries, vein grafts and prosthetic grafts. Data from 45 consecutive episodes of thrombolysis in 37 patients (37 limbs) were reviewed retrospectively. An initial bolus dose of urokinase was used in all limbs, with pulse-spray in nine 30 limbs received additional infusions of urokinase including six who received initial treatment with pulse-spray. Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty or surgical intervention was undertaken at any stage when considered appropriate. There were 14 occluded native arteries (31%), 12 vein grafts (27%), 16 prosthetic polytetrafluoroethylene grafts (35%), and three composite grafts (7%). Thrombolysis was initially successful in 33 episodes (73%). Of these, no additional procedure was required in three, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty in 23, other surgery in 11 and bypass surgery in seven with more than one additional procedure being undertaken in 10. Of the 12 episodes with initial failure, major surgery was performed in eight and no procedure in four. Lysis-related complications occurred in 19 treatment episodes (42%) with major bleeding in seven (16%), minor bleeding in 10 (22%), distal embolization in 11 (24%) and arterial dissection in two (4%). One amputation (2%) and one death (2%), both directly attributable to thrombolysis, occurred within 1 month of treatment. Complications occurred in 10 of 19 (53%) prosthetic or composite grafts, five of 12 (42%) vein grafts, and four of 14 (29%) native artery occlusions (P = 0.38). The median follow-up of patients remaining alive was 24 months. The overall mean (s.e.m.)patency rate at 6 months of lysed vessels or replacement bypass grafts was 44% (8%). Presentation with a native artery and or graft occlusion was associated with superior long-term patency (any subsequent conduit) compared with presentation with an occluded prosthetic graft (log rank χ21 = 7.00, P = 0.008) and reflects the inferior run-off of the latter patients. The average cost of thrombolysis in radiological procedures and disposables alone excluding intensive care and complications was AUD$2440.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-640
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • arterial ischaemia
  • original article
  • thrombolysis


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