Open vs endovascular revascularization for acute limb ischemia: a review of major trials

One discussion this week involved open surgical versus endovascular revascularization for acute limb ischemia (ALI).

Reference: Wang JC, Kim AH, Kashyap VS. Open surgical or endovascular revascularization for acute limb ischemia. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2016 Jan;63(1):270-278. doi:10/1016/j.jvs.2015.09.055.

Summary: Peripheral arterial disease affects approximately 10 million Americans. It can lead to lower extremity ischemic rest pain or tissue loss (Rutherford classification 4 to 6, or Fontaine classification III and IV). Acute limb ischemia (ALI) is defined as the presence of symptoms within 2 weeks of onset. ALI pathogenesis includes vascular stenoses with subsequent in situ thrombosis or thromboembolism from a cardiac or aortoiliac source. Stenotic lesions may indicate untreated comorbidities (eg, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, or tobacco use), whereas thromboembolisms implicate undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction (MI), or mural thrombus. Limb loss risk due to ALI can be as high as 40% with an attendant mortality rate of 15% to 20% (p.270).

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True or False: Atelectasis as cause of postoperative fever.

One discussion this week included atelectasis as a potential cause of postoperative fever.

Reference: Crompton JG, Crompton PD, Matzinger P. Does atelectasis cause fever after surgery? Putting a damper on dogma. JAMA Surgery. 2019 Mar 6:154(5):375-376. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2018.5645.

Summary: Fever and atelectasis are common after surgery, and in the absence of infectious causative mechanisms, atelectasis is commonly thought to be a cause of fever. The therapeutic implication of atelectasis as a putative cause of postoperative fever has been the widespread adoption of incentive spirometry to reduce atelectasis.

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Surgeon’s choice: TEP or TAPP for recurrent inguinal hernia repair?

One discussion involved the comparison of outcomes for TEP and TAPP for hernia repair.

Reference: Kockerling F, et al. TEP or TAPP for recurrent inguinal hernia repair-registered-based comparison of the outcome. Surgical Endoscopy. 2017 Oct;31(10):3872-3882. doi: 10.1007/s00464-017-5416-1

Summary: To date, no randomized trials have been conducted to compare the TEP vs TAPP outcome for recurrent inguinal hernia repair. Between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2013 data were entered into the Herniamed Registry on a total of 2246 patients with recurrent inguinal hernia repair following previous open primary operation in either TAPP (n = 1,464) or TEP technique (n = 782).

  • TAPP group: recurrent repair was performed for n=974/1,464 (66.5%) patients after suture and n=490/1,464 (33.5%) after mesh repair.
  • TEP group: recurrent repair was performed for n=554/782 (70.8%) patients following previous suture repair and for n=228/782 (29.2%) after mesh repair.

No significant differences were found between the recurrent operations in TEP vs TAPP technique with regard to the intraoperative complications, complication-related reoperations, re-recurrence rates, rates of pain at rest, pain on exertion, or chronic pain requiring treatment. Unfavorable results were identified only with regard to the higher seroma rates associated with TAPP; these responded to conservative treatment.

In summary, both TEP and TAPP can be recommended as effective techniques for treatment of recurrent inguinal hernia following previous open primary operation. The decision to use one or the other technique should be based solely on the surgeon’s expertise. The registry study presented here thus confirms the recommendations in the guidelines on laparo-endoscopic treatment of recurrent inguinal hernia following previous open primary operation.


Pro vs Con: thrombolysis for submassive PE

One discussion this week included thrombolysis for submassive PE.

References: Howard LS. Thrombolytic therapy for submassive pulmonary embolus? PRO viewpoint. Thorax. 2014 Feb;69(2):103-105.

Simpson AJ. Thrombolysis for acute submassive pulmonary embolism: CON viewpoint. Thorax. 2014 Feb;69(2):105-107.

Summary:  The normotensive patient with confirmed pulmonary embolism (PE) and right ventricular (RV) dilatation presents a significant dilemma to clinicians. On one hand, a string of publications have demonstrated that RV dysfunction is associated with adverse outcomes in patients with PE; on the other, thrombolysis carries a significant risk of bleeding. The real problem of course (and part of the reason for having this important debate) is that we have no reliable and accurate tools to pinpoint the important minority of patients with submassive PE who genuinely might benefit from thrombolysis or perhaps from surgical embolectomy

PRO: In proposing the argument that submassive PE should be treated with thrombolysis, we must first accept that direct mortality due to the PE itself, not confounding conditions, remains unacceptably high with anticoagulation alone. A more aggressive strategy is required. As long as the benefits of thrombolysis outweigh the risks, then thrombolysis offers the best currently available approach. When this is coupled with the further benefits of likely reduction in CTEPH, the case becomes even stronger.

Outcomes in patients with true submassive PE remain unacceptably high and thrombolysis has been shown to improve surrogate outcomes for mortality as well as long-term complications. The risks from thrombolysis are low, and when reduced doses are used, evidence so far suggests no decrease in benefit, but a further reduction in bleeding.

CON: The emerging picture is that, at the point of presentation, patients with submassive PE are highly likely to survive if treated with heparin alone and that the associated RV dilatation is likely to resolve spontaneously in the significant majority. The nagging doubt, of course, surrounds the small proportion of patients who will have persistent RV dysfunction, particularly as this group seems vulnerable to recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE).

However attractive it may be theoretically, we have no strong evidence to inform whether early thrombolysis can reduce VTE recurrence—we know that longer-term anticoagulation does. Similarly, we have no evidence that early thrombolysis reduces the risk of CTEPH, yet modern treatments significantly improve outcomes for this important
complication. So, instead of early thrombolysis, why not repeat echocardiography at 3 months, prolong anticoagulation in those with persistent RV impairment and assess carefully for evidence of CTEPH in the ensuing period?

Please see the full text of these editorials (linked above in references) for the full argument and citations. 

Outcomes of and predictors for bowel ischemia after AAA repair: a study of 7312 patients

One discussion this week included AAA repair. The article cited here was provided by the chief resident.

Reference: Ultee KH, et al. Incidence of and risk factors for bowel ischemia after abdominal aortic aneurysm repair. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2016 Nov;64(5):1384-1391. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2016.05.045.

Summary: Bowel ischemia is a rare but devastating complication after abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair. Its rarity has prohibited extensive risk-factor analysis, particularly since the widespread adoption of endovascular AAA repair (EVAR); therefore, this study assessed the incidence of postoperative bowel ischemia after AAA repair in the endovascular era and identified risk factors for its occurrence

METHODS: A total of 7312 patients undergoing intact or ruptured AAA repair in the Vascular Study Group of New England (VSGNE) January 2003 – November 2014 were included. Patients with and without postoperative bowel ischemia were compared and stratified by indication (intact and ruptured) and treatment approach (open repair and EVAR). Criteria for diagnosis were endoscopic or clinical evidence of ischemia, including bloody stools, in patients who died before diagnostic procedures were performed. Independent predictors of postoperative bowel ischemia were established using multivariable logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: Postoperative outcomes (p.1389):

AAA repair

RESULTS: Predictors of bowel ischemia after AAA repair (p.1390):

AAA predictors

CONCLUSIONS: The authors state that “these date should be considered during operative planning in an effort to adequately assess patient risk for bowel ischemia and undertake efforts to reduce it” (p.1391).

Open vs closed hemorrhoidectomy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs

One discussion this week included open versus closed hemorrhoidectomy.

Reference: Bhatti M, Sajid MS, Baig MK. Milligan-Morgan (open) versus Ferguson haemorrhoidectomy (closed): A systematic review and meta-analysis of published randomized, controlled trails. World Journal of Surgery. 2016 Jun;40(6):1509-1519. doi:10.1007/s00268-016-3419-z.

Summary: In Europe, the Milligan-Morgan procedure or open haemorrhoidectomy (OH) is more frequently practised, whereas in the United States of America the closed haemorrhoidectomy (CH) procedure, as described by Ferguson and Heaton, is the most popular. CH is purported to be a less painful procedure and associated with faster wound healing due to primary wound closure. However, the conflicting outcomes following both procedures have been debated in the published literature and several controversies around post-operative pain still need clarification.

Relevant prospective randomized, controlled trials (irrespective of type, language, gender, blinding, sample size or publication status) on CH versus OH for the management of HD until May 2014 were included in this review.

Ultimately, 11 RCTs encompassing 1326 patients were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis. Significant heterogeneity was found among included trials.

CONCLUSIONS: Variables of pain on defecation, length of hospital stay, post-operative complications, HD recurrence and risk of surgical site infection were similar in both groups.

Based upon the findings of this review, CH was associated with a reduced post-operative pain, faster wound healing, lesser risk of post-operative bleeding but prolonged duration of operation.

Findings of this review are contradictory to a 2007 meta-analysis of six randomized, controlled trials.


To view full data analyses (3 tables and 11 figures!) click on the link in the reference at the top of this post.


IOC vs MRCP for evaluation of the common bile duct during cholecystectomy

One discussion this week included cholangiography (IOC) versus magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) for the evaluation of the common bile duct during cholecystectomy.

References: Lin C, et al. Initial cholecystectomy with Cholangiography Decreases Length of Stay Compared to Preoperative MRCP or ERCP in the Management of Choledocholithiasis. American Surgery. 2015 July;81(7):726-731.

Sirinek KR, Schwesinger WR. Has intraoperative cholangiography during laparoscopic cholecystectomy become obsolete in the era of preoperative endoscopic retrograde and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography? Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2015 Apr;220(4):522-528.

Summary: There are several treatments available for choledocholithiasis, but the optimal treatment is highly debated.  In a study of 126 patients with suspected choledocholithiasis, Lin et al (2015) found that:

  • 97 patients who underwent initial LC ± IOC had an average LOS of 3.9 days
  • IOC was negative in 47.4% of patients, and they had a shorter LOS compared with positive IOC patients (2.93 vs 4.82, P < 0.001)
  • Laparoscopic common bile duct exploration was successful in 64.7% and had a shorter LOS compared with postoperative ERCP patients (P = 0.01)
  • Preoperative MRCP was performed in 21 patients with an average LOS of 6.48 days
  • Preoperative ERCP was performed in 8 patients with an average LOS of 7 days

In conclusion, initial LC+IOC was associated with a shorter LOS compared to preoperative MRCP or ERCP (Lin et al, 2015).

Additionally, a retrospective analysis of 7,427 patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) over 10 years  at a single tertiary care center evaluates the changing practice patterns over time of IOC, MRCP, and ERCP (Sirinek and Schwesinger, 2015).

Despite a shift from IOC and preoperative ERCP to preoperative MRCP alone or with ERCP, a significant percentage (7.6%) of patients still underwent IOC in 2013. Use of IOC during LC has decreased but is not considered obsolete, rather, it remains a valuable tool for the evaluation of bile duct anatomy, bile duct injury, or suspected choledocholithiasis. Intraoperative cholangiography during uncomplicated LC should be emphasized in teaching programs to insure general surgery resident competency with the procedure.

Additional Reading: Badger WR, et al. Utility of MRCP in clinical decision making of suspected choledocholithiasis: An institutional analysis and literature review. American Journal of Surgery. 2017 Aug;214(2):251-255.