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Treatment of Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease with the Endologix AFX Unibody Endograft

Open ArchivePublished:May 07, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejvs.2016.04.003

      Objective/Background

      Aorto-bifemoral bypass remains the gold standard for treatment of aortoiliac occlusive disease (AIOD) in patients with advanced (TASC D) lesions, but has significant associated morbidity and mortality. Treatment with a unibody stent-graft positioned at the aortic bifurcation is a potential endovascular option for the treatment of AIOD. The current study examines the safety, efficacy, and early patency rates of the Endologix AFX unibody stent-graft for treatment of AIOD.

      Methods

      A multicenter retrospective review was conducted of patients treated exclusively for AIOD with the AFX device. Primary, assisted primary, and secondary patency rates were noted. Clinical improvement was assessed using Rutherford classification and ankle brachial index. Mean duration of follow-up was 22.2 ± 11.2 months. Ninety-one patients (56 males [62%]) were studied.

      Results

      Sixty-seven patients (74%) presented with lifestyle-limiting intermittent claudication and the remaining 24 (26%) had critical limb ischemia. Technical success was 100%. Complications included groin infection (n = 4 [4%]), groin hematoma (n = 4 [4%]), common iliac rupture (n = 4 [4%]), iliac dissection (n = 4 [4%]), and thromboembolic event (n = 3 [3%]; one femoral, one internal iliac artery, and one internal iliac with bilateral popliteal/tibial thromboemboli). Thirty-day mortality was 1% (1/91) resulting from a case of extensive pelvic thromboembolism. At 1 year, 73% of patients experienced improvement in Rutherford stage of −3 or greater compared with baseline. Nine patients (10%) required 16 secondary interventions. At all time points, primary patency rates were > 90%, assisted patency rates were > 98%, and secondary patency rates were 100%.

      Conclusion

      This is the largest study to examine the use of the Endologix AFX unibody stent-graft for the treatment of AIOD. Use of the AFX stent-graft appears to be a safe and effective endovascular treatment for complex AIOD.

      Keywords

      Treatment of aortoiliac occlusive lesions with a unibody stent-graft positioned at the aortic bifurcation has several potential advantages for the treatment of aortoiliac occlusive disease (AIOD): it can preserve the aortic bifurcation, avoid limb competition in the distal aorta, allow for future endovascular interventions, and protect against potentially fatal aortoiliac rupture in heavily calcified lesions. The current study examines the safety, efficacy, and early patency rates of the Endologix AFX unibody stent-graft for treatment of AIOD. This is the largest study examining the use of the Endologix AFX unibody stent-graft for the treatment of AIOD. The results of this study offer a significant contribution to the treatment of AIOD.

      Introduction

      In recent years, the shift in vascular surgery from open surgical intervention to endovascular therapy has been particularly pronounced in patients with atherosclerotic occlusive disease of the aorta and iliac arteries (aortoiliac occlusive disease [AIOD]), with an 8.5-fold increase (from 0.4 to 3.4 per 100,000 adults) in iliac artery angioplasty and stenting between 1996 and 2000 alone, while aortobifemoral bypass rates fell by only 15% (from 5.8 to 4.9 per 100,000 adults).
      • Upchurch G.R.
      • Dimick J.B.
      • Wainess R.M.
      • Eliason J.L.
      • Henke P.K.
      • Cowan J.A.
      • et al.
      Diffusion of new technology in health care: the case of aorto-iliac occlusive disease.
      However, for those lesions most difficult to treat with endovascular techniques (Trans-Atlantic Inter-Society Consensus [TASC II] type D lesions), aorto-bifemoral bypass (AFB) is the preferred revascularization strategy. Traditional endovascular interventions for complex AIOD, such as “kissing” stents, pose technical challenges and increase procedural complexity and risk in patients with heavily calcified aortic bifurcations or aortic thrombus. Moreover, patency may be compromised in more complex lesions owing to radial size mismatch between stents and certain stent configurations within the distal aorta.
      • Sharafuddin M.J.
      • Hoballah J.J.
      • Kresowik T.F.
      • Sharp W.J.
      • Golzarian J.
      • Sun S.
      • et al.
      Long-term outcome following stent reconstruction of the aortic bifurcation and the role of geometric determinants.
      However, despite these technical limitations, endovascular therapy has the potential to reduce significantly the morbidity and mortality associated with the treatment of complex AIOD. Indeed, endovascular therapy as a first-line treatment is becoming more commonplace, with open surgery reserved as a secondary option.
      • Klein A.J.
      • Feldman D.N.
      • Aronow H.D.
      • Gray B.H.
      • Gupta K.
      • Gigliotti O.S.
      • et al.
      SCAI expert consensus statement for aorto-iliac arterial intervention appropriate use.
      One alternative to treat disease of both the distal aorta and the iliac arteries is the use of stent-grafts. The Endologix AFX stent-graft is a unibody, low-profile stent-graft that preserves the aortic bifurcation and has a number of the advantages inherent to endovascular techniques. The current study examines the safety, efficacy, and early patency rates of the AFX unibody stent-graft for the treatment of AIOD.

      Methods

      Design and data collection

      An institutional review board-approved retrospective review of patients treated exclusively for AIOD with the Endologix AFX unibody stent-graft was conducted at nine centers in the USA and one in the Netherlands. This device is approved for the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) and holds unique advantages for use in patients with aortoiliac occlusive disease, owing to its low-profile delivery system. All risks and benefits to using this device, including its off-label indication, as well as all alternatives (endovascular and open) were discussed with the patients in detail prior to surgery. Any patient with a concomitant aortic aneurysm (defined as an aortic diameter > 3.5 cm) was excluded so as to assure that intention to treat was for AIOD and not for aneurysmal disease. Trained chart abstractors reviewed medical records, including operative notes, to record patient demographics, presenting symptoms, anatomic and procedural details (including need for adjunctive procedures), secondary interventions after the initial intervention, and complications.

      Technique

      Techniques for delivery and deployment of the AFX device have been well described when treating AAAs.
      • Carpenter J.P.
      • Endologix Investigators
      Multicenter trial of the PowerLink bifurcated system for endovascular aortic aneurysm repair.
      The AFX system consists of bifurcated unibodies with short, integrated iliac limbs. All AFX endografts feature a cobalt chromium stent frame with a multilayer expanded polytetrafluoroethylene material external to the stent. The implant is delivered using a dedicated 17-Fr introducer sheath on the ipsilateral side and an auxiliary 9-Fr introducer sheath on the contralateral side. The unibody design avoids the need to cannulate the contralateral gate and allows for placement of the flow divider of the bifurcated component of the AFX system directly on the native aortic bifurcation.
      Choice of anesthesia is physician- and patient-dependent, and may depend on the decision to perform adjunctive surgical interventions such as femoral endarterectomy. In this study, 41.4% of patients were treated percutaneously. Hemostasis was achieved using the Proglide (Abbott Vascular, Abbott Park, IL, USA). Intraoperative heparin dosing varied by center. However, generally, heparin was administered so as to maintain an activated clotting time > 250 seconds, when possible.
      There are some important nuances in technique that are unique when using the AFX device to treat occlusive disease. Most centers represented in this study used exclusively femoral access, although a brachial approach can be useful for crossing total occlusions. Generally, even for TASC B and C lesions, predilation of the iliac lesions is advisable, to minimize resistance as the AFX is delivered into the aorta and to allow for easier rotation of the device as needed. For TASC D lesions, the procedure demands that recanalization of the distal aorta occurs as close as possible to the aortic bifurcation. This will ensure that the AFX device sits directly on the aortic bifurcation and that it is not wedged on aortic debris. For these reasons, a key technique is to recanalize from one common iliac artery into the opposing common iliac artery, and then snare the wire to create a femoral-femoral wire (see Fig. 2). In this experience, the use of re-entry devices was not necessary, although this may be useful to help achieve through and through femoral-femoral wire access in some cases. The aortic occlusion is then recanalized from one of the common iliac arteries. The femoral-femoral wire is then replaced with a Kumpe catheter; the SurePass wire attached to the contralateral limb is then passed through the Kumpe. This step avoids trying to snare the wire within the distal aortic occlusion. In addition, it is not necessary to place the 17-Fr sheath up to the aortic bifurcation. The sheath can be placed within 5 cm of the aortic bifurcation, and the AFX can be delivered through the common iliac and aortic occlusion. It is imperative that the chronic occlusions are predilated, preferably with bilateral 6–8 mm × 150 mm balloons. Without predilatation, there is severe resistance as the device is placed into position, and it is very difficult to rotate the device to ensure the limbs seat appropriately. Most centers represented in this study recommend that all common iliac arteries be treated with adjunctive stents. Adjunctive stenting of the distal aorta is less often done and depends on the degree of compression or calcification visualized intraoperatively on completion angiogram and/or intravascular ultrasound. Proximal aortic extension is rarely needed.
      All patients are discharged on either aspirin or clopidogrel, if not already on one of these medications.

      Outcomes

      Routine practice at all centers included clinical follow-up at a minimum of approximately 1 month, 6 months, and annually postoperatively. Outcomes (primary, assisted primary, and secondary patency rates) were assessed throughout the follow-up period, using computed tomographic angiography and/or aortoiliac duplex in 76% of cases. Twenty-four percent of patients did not have any imaging studies on follow-up. Restenosis was defined as > 50% diameter reduction (peak systolic velocity [PSV] ratio 2.5–4 and/or PSV of > 180 cm/second) or 75% area reduction on axial imaging. Patency was defined according to suggested Society for Vascular Surgery standards.
      • Rutherford R.B.
      • Baker J.D.
      • Ernst C.
      • Johnston K.W.
      • Porter J.M.
      • Ahn S.
      • et al.
      Recommended standards for reports dealing with lower extremity ischemia: revised version.
      Primary patency was defined as uninterrupted flow in the treated aortoiliac segment without occlusion or reintervention. Primary-assisted patency was defined as uninterrupted flow in the treated segment, allowing for reintervention for hemodynamically significant lesions in order to prevent occlusion. Secondary patency was defined as patency of the treated segment, allowing for reintervention for occlusion.
      In addition to these patency outcomes, we evaluated technical success, adverse events, and clinical improvement. Technical success was defined as insertion of the endograft with flow into both iliac arteries at the conclusion of the procedure. Thirty-day major adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events (MACCE) included any death, myocardial infarction (MI), or stroke. Thirty-day major adverse limb events (MALE) included any amputation above the ankle and any major vascular reintervention (thrombectomy, thrombolysis, or surgical bypass) to either lower extremity.
      • Conte M.S.
      • Geraghty P.J.
      • Bradbury A.W.
      • Hevelone N.D.
      • Lipsitz S.R.
      • Moneta G.L.
      • et al.
      Suggested objective performance goals and clinical trial design for evaluating catheter-based treatment of critical limb ischemia.
      MI was determined based on postoperative biomarkers and/or changes on electrocardiogram. Other adverse events assessed included groin infections, hematomas, vessel ruptures, dissections, and thromboembolic events.
      Ankle brachial indices (ABI) were measured at all follow-up time points. Clinical improvement was assessed using the Rutherford classification (RC) of chronic limb ischemia.
      • Rutherford R.B.
      • Baker J.D.
      • Ernst C.
      • Johnston K.W.
      • Porter J.M.
      • Ahn S.
      • et al.
      Recommended standards for reports dealing with lower extremity ischemia: revised version.
      Given the possibility of patient follow-up at outside institutions, all patients, including those who did not complete follow-up imaging to confirm patency, were contacted to determine whether or not they had subsequent interventions to their grafts.

      Data analysis

      Statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS 19 (IBM, Armonk, NY, USA). Univariate analyses were performed using chi-square tests for discrete variables and Student t tests for continuous variables. A p-value < .05 was considered significant.

      Results

      Study population

      Ninety-one patients with AIOD presented to the 10 participating centers between 2012 and 2014 and underwent treatment with an Endologix AFX unibody device. Baseline patient characteristics are details in Table 1. Further risk stratification of patients was determined according to American Association of Anesthesiologists physical status classification system, as well as by cardiac and pulmonary function (Table 2). Thirty-four patients (37%) of patients were deemed unfit for open surgery, owing to high-risk comorbidities.
      Table 1Baseline patient characteristics and details (n = 91).
      Mean ± SD age (y)67.9 ± 9.7
      Sex (n = 91)
       Female35 (38)
       Male56 (62)
      Ethnicity (n = 91)
       White73 (80)
       African American7 (8)
       Hispanic3 (3)
       Other8 (9)
      Smoking (n = 89)81 (91)
      Hypertension (n = 89)71 (80)
      CAD (n = 89)46 (52)
      Prior PTCA (n = 89)27 (30)
      CHF (n = 88)4 (5)
      Diabetes (n = 91)
       Insulin-dependent10 (11)
       Noninsulin medications16 (18)
       Diet controlled2 (2)
      COPD (n = 89)27 (30)
      Hypercholesterolemia (n = 88)79 (90)
      Stroke/TIA (n = 88)14 (16)
      Renal function (creatinine) (n = 89)
       < 1.5 mg/dL78 (88)
       1.5–3.0 mg/dL11 (12)
      Ambulatory status (n = 90)
       Ambulatory84 (93)
       With assistance4 (5)
       Wheelchair-bound2 (2)
      ASA (n = 91)75 (82)
      P2Y12 antagonist (e.g., clopidogrel) (n = 91)31 (34)
      ASA or P2Y12 antagonist (n = 91)84 (92)
      Statin use (n = 91)70 (77)
      Mean lowest resting ABI0.57
      Note. Data are n (%) unless otherwise indicated. CAD = coronary artery disease; PTCA = percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty; CHF = congestive heart failure; COPD = chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; TIA = transient ischemic attack; ASA = aspirin; ABI = ankle brachial index.
      Table 2Risk stratification of patients according to pulmonary and cardiac status (n = 91).
      n (%)
      ASA class
       I5 (6)
       II15 (16)
       III52 (57)
       IV19 (21)
      Cardiac status
       0: asymptomatic, normal ECG46 (51)
       1: asymptomatic, remote MI by history (> 6 mo), occult MI by ECG34 (37)
       2: stable angina, controlled ectopy or asymptomatic arrhythmia, drug compensated CHF6 (7)
       3: unstable angina, symptomatic or poorly controlled ectopy/arrhythmia, poorly compensated CHF, MI < 6 mo5 (6)
      Pulmonary status
       0: asymptomatic, normal60 (66)
       1: asymptomatic/mild dyspnea on exertion, PFTs 65–80% of predicted23 (25)
       2: between 1 and 37 (8)
       3: vital capacity < 1.85 L, FEV1 < 1.2 L (< 35% predicted), supplemental O2 used medically, or pulmonary hypertension1 (1)
      Note. ASA = American Society of Anesthesiologists; ECG = electrocardiography; MI = myocardial infarction; CHF = congestive heart failure; PFT = pulmonary function test; FEV1 = forced expiratory volume in 1 s.
      According to RC at baseline, 67 patients (74%) presented with lifestyle-limiting intermittent claudication (RC1, n = 2 [2%]; RC2, n = 9 [10%]; RC3, n = 56 [62%]), 16 (18%) with ischemic rest pain (RC4), and eight (9%) with tissue loss (RC5, n = 7 [8%]; RC6, n = 1 [1%]). All patients with symptoms of intermittent claudication were initially managed conservatively with implementation of an exercise regimen (supervised when possible) and treatment with cilostazol when appropriate (with the exception of the Dutch Center which did not prescribe cilostazol routinely). Ultimately, the decision to intervene in patients with claudication was made only when symptoms were debilitating. There were 11 patients with only mild-to-moderate intermittent claudication (RC1 and RC2) who were younger in age and had persistent symptoms that were affecting lifestyle and underwent intervention.
      The mean resting ABI in the most severely affected limb prior to intervention was 0.57. The majority of patients had TASC D lesions (n = 74 [81%]) and nearly one-quarter (18/74 [24%]) of these TASC D lesions were chronic aortoiliac occlusions (Fig. 1). No patient underwent intervention for acute obstruction of the aortoiliac segment. A representative total aortic occlusion (TASC D1) is shown in Fig. 2.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Trans-Atlantic Inter-Society Consensus classification for all patients with aortoiliac occlusive disease treated with an AFX aorto-unibody device.
      Figure thumbnail gr2
      Figure 2Trans-Atlantic Inter-Society Consensus D lesion (D1) shows total aortic occlusion (A) treated successfully with an aorto-unibody stent-graft (D). Adjunctive stenting is often required of iliac limbs. A favored technique is to recanalize from one common iliac artery into the opposing common iliac artery, and then snare the wire to create a femoral-femoral wire (B). The aortic occlusion is then recanalized from one of the common iliac arteries. The femoral-femoral wire is then replaced with a Kumpe catheter; the SurePass wire attached to the contralateral limb is then passed through the Kumpe. Kissing balloons are used to fully expand the limbs and AFX main body so as to recreate the aortic bifurcation (C).

      Interventions

      Percutaneous access was used in 36 patients (41%) and general endotracheal anesthesia in the majority of cases (n = 90 [99%]). General anesthesia was used owing to the complexity of the procedure, including open surgical femoral artery access in 59% of patients and the need for concurrent common femoral endarterectomy. Fifty-six patients (64%) required adjunctive procedures at the time of initial intervention (Table 3). This included an open surgical procedure in 39% of patients (endarterectomy, n = 30; bypass, n = 4) and an endovascular procedure in 59% of patients (iliac stent, n = 53 [40 balloon expandable, 13 self-expanding]; aortic stent, n = 10 [Palmaz]).
      Table 3Adjunctive procedures performed at time of treatment, using the AFX device.
      Patients, n (%)Planned vs. unplanned
      n = 8756 (64)
      Endovascular procedures51 (59)25 planned
       Aortic stent10 (11)Palmaz (unplanned)
      Arteries treated
       Iliac stent53 (61)EIA = 25
      CIA = 56
      Surgical procedures34 (39)23 planned
      CFA endarterectomy30 (37)25 planned
      Bypass
      Four adjunctive bypasses were performed (Patient 1: right and left external iliac limb to profunda femoris bypasses with 10-mm Dacron graft. Sartorius flaps to bilateral groins, prophylactic, re-operative groins three times with prior thrombosed prosthetics in the groins. Patient 2: left femoral-popliteal; patient presented with rest pain and known superficial femoral artery occlusion. Patient 3: endarterectomy and planned femoral-tibial bypass with vein graft; presented with rest pain and dry gangrene. Patient 4: planned femoral-popliteal bypass).
      4 (4)4 planned
      Note. CFA = common femoral artery; EIA = external iliac artery; CIA = common iliac artery.
      a Four adjunctive bypasses were performed (Patient 1: right and left external iliac limb to profunda femoris bypasses with 10-mm Dacron graft. Sartorius flaps to bilateral groins, prophylactic, re-operative groins three times with prior thrombosed prosthetics in the groins. Patient 2: left femoral-popliteal; patient presented with rest pain and known superficial femoral artery occlusion. Patient 3: endarterectomy and planned femoral-tibial bypass with vein graft; presented with rest pain and dry gangrene. Patient 4: planned femoral-popliteal bypass).
      Other procedural details, including median fluoroscopy and operative times, are listed in Table 4.
      Table 4Procedural details.
      Technical success91 (100)
      Median days in hospital (Q1–Q3)3.0 (2.0–4.0)
      Median (Q1–Q3) procedure time (min) (n = 84)167.0 (100.0–255.6)
       < 9010 (12)
       90–15028 (33)
       150–21015 (18)
       > 21031 (37)
      Median (Q1–Q3) fluoroscopy time (min) (n = 62)21.8 (5.6–36.6)
       < 107 (11)
       10–2016 (26)
       20–3013 (21)
       > 3026 (42)
      Median (Q1–Q3) contrast volume (mL) (n = 67)60.0 (30.0–93.0)
       < 10048 (72)
       100–20015 (22)
       200–3004 (6)
      Median (Q1–Q3) blood loss (mL)200.0 (87.5–300.0)
      Access type (n = 87)
       Percutaneous36 (41)
      Anesthesia (n = 91)
       GETA90 (99)
      Note. Data are n (%) unless otherwise indicated. GETA = general endotracheal anesthesia.

      Outcomes

      The mean duration of follow-up was 22.2 ± 11.2 months. Technical success was achieved in 100% of patients. The 30-day MACCE rate was 2% (one death, one stroke); no MIs were observed. The one patient who died within 30 days had chronic aortic occlusive (TASC C) disease with significant thrombus in the aorta. The patient developed pelvic arterial thromboembolism and subsequent intestinal and gluteal necrosis, and died on postoperative day 28. This thromboembolic complication and ultimate mortality was a result of thrombus in the aorta at the time of intervention that was dislodged as a result of excessively aggressive wire or catheter manipulation, and represents a technical complication.
      The overall procedure-related complication rate was 22% (20 patients) and included six groin infections (7%), four hematomas (4%), four vessel ruptures (4%), four dissections (4%), and three thromboembolic events (3%; Table 5). None of the complications appeared to be device-related. The majority of these complications (vessel rupture, dissections, and thromboembolic events) were treated with either endovascular therapy or supportive medical therapy (antibiotics for infection). The four hematomas occurred in groins in which percutaneous access had been achieved, were managed expectantly, and did not require exploration/evacuation. The four ruptures (one aortic and three common iliac artery) were treated with covered stent extensions. The four iliac dissections were treated with bare metal stents. Of the three thromboembolic events, one patient embolized to the right hypogastric artery and was managed expectantly, with no sequelae, including buttock claudication, noted. One required open thrombectomy of a femoral occlusion. The final aforementioned patient suffered massive thromboemboli to the pelvis and bilateral lower extremities. The peripheral emboli were treated with open thrombectomy of bilateral popliteal and tibial vessels. All cases of embolization had the entire disease segment covered but likely embolized during delivery of device and/or as a result of wire or catheter manipulation.
      Table 5Periprocedural complications following AFX for treatment of aortoiliac occlusive disease in all patients and a subset of high-risk patients deemed unfit for open surgery.
      Complicationn = 20/91 (22)Unfit for open surgery
      n = 9/34 (26)
      Groin infection6 (7)2 (6)
      Respiratory failure4 (4)2 (6)
      Groin hematoma4 (4)3 (9)
      Rupture4 (4)3 (9)
      Hemodynamic instability0 (0)0 (0)
      Dissection4 (4)3 (9)
      Thromboembolic event
      Single mortality occurred as a result of a thromboemolic event resulting in diffuse pelvic ischemia and intestinal infarction.
      Intestinal1
      Single mortality occurred as a result of a thromboemolic event resulting in diffuse pelvic ischemia and intestinal infarction.
      0
      Spinal cord3 (3)01 (3)0
      Buttock2
      Single mortality occurred as a result of a thromboemolic event resulting in diffuse pelvic ischemia and intestinal infarction.
      1
      Lower extremity10
      Femoral thrombosis2 (2)1 (3)
      Stroke1 (1)0 (0)
      Contrast nephropathy0 (0)0 (0)
      Pneumonia0 (0)0 (0)
      30-d mortality
      Single mortality occurred as a result of a thromboemolic event resulting in diffuse pelvic ischemia and intestinal infarction.
      1 (1)
      Single mortality occurred as a result of a thromboemolic event resulting in diffuse pelvic ischemia and intestinal infarction.
      0 (0)
      Note. Data are n (%).
      a Single mortality occurred as a result of a thromboemolic event resulting in diffuse pelvic ischemia and intestinal infarction.
      Separate analysis of the 34 patients (37%) who were deemed unfit for open surgery revealed a complication rate of 26.5% (Table 5). However, the data indicate that there is no statistically significant increase in complication rates amongst those unfit for open repair when compared with those fit for open repair (9/34 [26.5%] vs. 11/57 [19.3%]; p = .243).
      RC and ABI were recorded at scheduled follow-up time points (Table 6). At 6 months, 73% of patients experienced improvement in RC of three or more categories (p = .048). Only one patient had worsening classification during follow-up (RC5 to RC6). (Fig. 3A). Twenty-four patients (26%) had critical limb ischemia, 16 (18%) with ischemic rest pain (RC4) and eight (9%) with tissue loss (RC5, n = 7 [8%]; RC6, n = 1 [1%]). All but one of the eight patients with tissue loss (RC5 and RC6) went on to heal their wounds. This diabetic patient had a preoperative ABI of 0.25 that improved to 0.75 after the procedure. Despite this improvement in flow, toe ulcerations progressed and patient underwent tibial angioplasty at 5 months via a contralateral approach; the patient was noted to have extensive tarsal occlusive disease and eventually underwent below-knee amputation at 6 months. This late complication was not considered to be related to the index procedure but rather a progression of distal disease.
      Table 6Ankle brachial index (ABI) and Rutherford classification at follow-up.
      BaselineDischarge1 mo6 mo1 y2 y3 y
      ABI
      n70255136553916
       Mean ± SD0.5 ± 0.20.9 ± 0.20.9 ± 0.20.9 ± 0.20.9 ± 0.20.9 ± 0.20.9 ± 0.2
      Rutherford classification
       0: Asymptomatic30/45 (67)59/75 (79)43/55 (78)47/59 (80)34/40 (85)10/13 (77)
       1: Mild claudication2/91 (3)11/45 (24)14/75 (19)9/55 (16)7/59 (12)5/40 (13)3/13 (23)
       2: Moderate claudication9/91 (10)1/45 (2)2/75 (3)2/55 (4)3/59 (5)
       3: Severe claudication56/91 (62)2/45 (4)1/59 (2)
       4: Ischemic rest pain16/91 (18)1/59 (2)
       5: Minor tissue loss7/91 (8)1/45 (2)1/55 (2)
       6: Major tissue loss1/91 (1)
      Patients with follow-up (n)91918768715716
      Note. Data are n (%) unless otherwise indicated.
      Figure thumbnail gr3
      Figure 3(A) Seventy-three percent of patients experienced improvement in Rutherford stage of −3 or greater compared to baseline at 6-month follow-up. (B) Forty-five percent of patients showed an increase of ankle brachial index (ABI) of 80–100% compared with baseline.
      Mean ABI improved from 0.5 ± 0.2 preoperatively to 0.9 ± 0.2 postprocedure (p < .01), obtained on first follow-up visit at 1–6 months (Table 6). In 42% of patients, the ABI resting increased by 80–100% compared with baseline (Fig. 3B). Nine patients (10%) required subsequent angioplasty and/or stenting (Table 7). All but one of these were iliac limb interventions. One patient developed progression of occlusive disease proximal to the aortic stent and required placement of aortic cuff extension, with excellent technical results and clinical improvement. There were two iliac limb occlusions or thromboses noted at 6 months and 1 year postoperatively, and the rate of 30-day MALE was 0%. Patency rates are depicted in Fig. 4. Among patients who returned for follow-up at 3 years, 100% had patent grafts. Freedom from secondary intervention was 88.9% at 1 year and 87.5% at 2 years (Fig. 5).
      Table 7Secondary interventions (nine patients, 16 secondary interventions).
      Total patients (n = 9)Target vesselIntervention1 mo6 mo1 yr2 yr3 yr4 yr
      1AortaExtension cuff
      Patient required proximal aortic cuff to treat progression of proximal disease presenting with worsening claudication.
      1
      2CFALeftPTA1
      Stent
      RightPTA11
      Stent
      5EIALeftPTA2
      Stent2
      RightPTA20
      Stent1
      4CIALeftPTA
      Stent13
      RightPTA
      Stent01
      Graft patencyNo
      One patient required open thrombectomy and stenting of occluded right limb at 6 mo, another required percutaneous stenting of occluded left CIA at 1 y.
      11
      Yes87677057162
      Note. CFA = common femoral artery; PTA = percutaneous transluminal angioplasty; EIA = external iliac artery; CIA = common iliac artery.
      a Patient required proximal aortic cuff to treat progression of proximal disease presenting with worsening claudication.
      b One patient required open thrombectomy and stenting of occluded right limb at 6 mo, another required percutaneous stenting of occluded left CIA at 1 y.
      Figure thumbnail gr4
      Figure 4Kaplan–Meier survival analysis showing patency curves of patients treated with an AFX device for aortoiliac occlusive disease.
      Figure thumbnail gr5
      Figure 5Kaplan–Meier survival analysis showing freedom from secondary intervention curves for patients treated with an AFX device (88.9% at 1 year and 87.5% at 2 years). Ninety-five percent confidence intervals are shown in the shaded area.

      Discussion

      This multicenter study evaluating the unique application of the Endologix bifurcated stent graft in a series of patients with complex AOID demonstrates favorable results. This device, designed and approved for use in the treatment of aneurysmal aortoiliac disease, has properties that may be more desirable than traditional endovascular therapy for the treatment of AIOD. The present experience evaluating this device for this nonaneurysmal application represents the largest series reported thus far. The use of the Endologix bifurcated stent-graft for complex AIOD was associated with a high rate of technical success, favorable patency rates to 2 years postprocedure, and low rates of MACCE and MALE. Notably, the single mortality encountered resulted from thromboembolism in a patient with TASC C occlusive disease and was likely a result of excessive wire–catheter manipulation in the setting of underappreciated aortic thrombus. While atheroembolism is a recognized complication inherent to endovascular procedures, one should especially avoid excessive instrumentation in cases with increased thrombus burden. An open approach to such higher risk cases may be warranted so as to protect against distal embolization to the lower extremities by clamping the femoral and profunda femoral arteries for critical portions of the case.
      A promising rate of graft patency was found, with > 88% of patients maintaining primary patency throughout the first 2 years of follow-up. Although the overall complication rate was high (22%), the majority of these procedure-related complications were treated with endovascular therapy at the time of the procedure, and local complications may decrease with increased experience and improvements in device design. Moreover, incidence of groin-related complications in the present study is comparable with that found in open surgical repair (AFB) and may reflect the fact that a significant number of patients underwent open surgical access and thus were exposed to the same risks found in open surgery. In a recent study by Pejkić et al. of 120 consecutive patients undergoing elective AFB for occlusive disease, early postoperative complications (30 days) affected 35 (15%) groin wounds in 29 (25%) patients.
      • Pejkić S.
      • Dragaš M.
      • Ilić N.
      • Končar I.
      • Opačić D.
      • Maksimović Z.
      • et al.
      Incidence and relevance of groin incisional complications after aortobifemoral bypass grafting.
      Lymph fistulae/lymphoceles were observed in 15 (6%), infection in 11 (5%), and noninfectious wound dehiscence in nine (4%) of groin incisions.
      • Pejkić S.
      • Dragaš M.
      • Ilić N.
      • Končar I.
      • Opačić D.
      • Maksimović Z.
      • et al.
      Incidence and relevance of groin incisional complications after aortobifemoral bypass grafting.
      The authors of the current paper believe groin complications following AFX repair of AIOD may decrease significantly as more experience is gained with the technique and limit the use of open surgical access to those patients requiring adjunctive surgical procedures (i.e., femoral endaraterectomy or profundoplasty). Indeed, although general anesthesia and open surgical access were used commonly (99% and 59%, respectively) in this initial experience, more recent practice has been characterized by complete percutaneous access, use of conscious sedation, and local anesthetic when possible.
      The use of the Endologix AFX stent-graft for complex AIOD provides an attractive alternative for patients who might otherwise require aortobifemoral bypass. Meta-analyses of aorto-bifemoral bypass have reported local and systemic morbidity rates of 8% and 12%, respectively, and mortality rates of 3–5%.
      • De Vries S.
      • Hunink M.
      Results of aortic bifurcation grafts for aortoiliac occlusive disease: a meta-analysis.
      Mortality rates are higher in those over the age of 65 years and with comorbidities, including insulin-dependent diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
      • Hertzer N.R.
      • Bena J.F.
      • Karafa M.T.
      A personal experience with direct reconstruction and extra-anatomic bypass for aortoiliofemoral occlusive disease.
      As such, the AFX stent-graft may play a unique role in those patients who are at prohibitive risk for open surgery. Nearly 40% of the patients in the present study were deemed unfit for surgery. However, this higher-risk cohort did not suffer an increased complication rate when compared with those patients determined to be good candidates for open surgery. Despite this higher-risk patient population, in this study 30-day MACCE was only 2% and 30-day MALE was 0%, though with local morbidity in 20% of patients.
      Several alternative endovascular interventions have been proposed to treat AIOD. The dominant treatment in this regard is iliac angioplasty and stenting, with “kissing” stents used for patients with disease involving the aortoiliac bifurcation. Kissing balloons were first described in 1985, and kissing stents in 1991.
      • Tegtmeyer C.J.
      • Kellum C.D.
      • Kron I.L.
      • Mentzer R.M.
      Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty in the region of the aortic bifurcation. The two-balloon technique with results and long-term follow-up study.
      • Küffer G.
      • Spengel F.
      • Steckmeier B.
      Percutaneous reconstruction of the aortic bifurcation with Palmaz stents: case report.
      • Palmaz J.C.
      • Encarnacion C.E.
      • Garcia O.J.
      • Schatz R.A.
      • Rivera F.J.
      • Laborde J.C.
      • et al.
      Aortic bifurcation stenosis: treatment with intravascular stents.
      Estimates of long-term patency after kissing stent placement vary widely based on anatomy, indications, and patient risk factors, with some studies showing primary patency as high as 82% at 5 years and 68% at 10 years, and others with patency even after reintervention (primary-assisted patency) as low as 65% at 2 years.
      • Sharafuddin M.J.
      • Hoballah J.J.
      • Kresowik T.F.
      • Sharp W.J.
      • Golzarian J.
      • Sun S.
      • et al.
      Long-term outcome following stent reconstruction of the aortic bifurcation and the role of geometric determinants.
      • Haulon S.
      • Mounier-Véhier C.
      • Gaxotte V.
      • Koussa M.
      • Lions C.
      • Haouari B.A.
      • et al.
      Percutaneous reconstruction of the aortoiliac bifurcation with the “kissing stents” technique: long-term follow-up in 106 patients.
      • Greiner A.
      • Dessl A.
      • Klein-Weigel P.
      • Neuhauser B.
      • Perkmann R.
      • Waldenberger P.
      • et al.
      Kissing stents for treatment of complex aortoiliac disease.
      • Yilmaz S.
      • Sindel T.
      • Golbasi I.
      • Turkay C.
      • Mete A.
      • Lüleci E.
      Aortoiliac kissing stents: long-term results and analysis of risk factors affecting patency.
      • Houston J.G.
      • Bhat R.
      • Ross R.
      • Stonebridge P.A.
      Long-term results after placement of aortic bifurcation self-expanding stents: 10 year mortality, stent restenosis, and distal disease progression.
      • Björses K.
      • Ivancev K.
      • Riva L.
      • Manjer J.
      • Uher P.
      • Resch T.
      Kissing stents in the aortic bifurcation–a valid reconstruction for aorto-iliac occlusive disease.
      • Abello N.
      • Kretz B.
      • Picquet J.
      • Magnan P.-E.
      • Hassen-Khodja R.
      • Chevalier J.
      • et al.
      Long-term results of stenting of the aortic bifurcation.
      • Hinnen J.W.
      • Konickx M.A.
      • Meerwaldt R.
      • Kolkert J.L.P.
      • van der Palen J.
      • Huisman A.B.
      • et al.
      Long term results of kissing stents in the aortic bifurcation.
      • Suh Y.
      • Ko Y.-G.
      • Shin D.-H.
      • Kim J.-S.
      • Kim B.-K.
      • Choi D.
      • et al.
      Outcomes of the single-stent versus kissing-stents technique in asymmetric complex aortoiliac bifurcation lesions.
      • Pulli R.
      • Dorigo W.
      • Fargion A.
      • Angiletta D.
      • Azas L.
      • Pratesi G.
      • et al.
      Early and midterm results of kissing stent technique in the management of aortoiliac obstructive disease.
      Compared with iliac stenting that does not involve the iliac bifurcation, stenting of the aortic bifurcation is more geometrically challenging to achieve without narrowing the flow lumen; the limb competition of two “crossed” kissing stents in a diseased distal aorta can lead to significant flow compromise.
      • Yilmaz S.
      • Sindel T.
      • Golbasi I.
      • Turkay C.
      • Mete A.
      • Lüleci E.
      Aortoiliac kissing stents: long-term results and analysis of risk factors affecting patency.
      • Greiner A.
      • Mühlthaler H.
      • Neuhauser B.
      • Waldenberger P.
      • Dessl A.
      • Schocke M.F.H.
      • et al.
      Does stent overlap influence the patency rate of aortoiliac kissing stents?.
      Aortic bifurcations with heavy calcification, aortic thrombus, and size or geometric mismatch between the native vessels and the final stent conformation present challenges to successful treatment with kissing stents.
      • Sharafuddin M.J.
      • Hoballah J.J.
      • Kresowik T.F.
      • Sharp W.J.
      • Golzarian J.
      • Sun S.
      • et al.
      Long-term outcome following stent reconstruction of the aortic bifurcation and the role of geometric determinants.
      • Sharafuddin M.J.
      • Hoballah J.J.
      • Kresowik T.F.
      • Sharp W.J.
      Kissing stent reconstruction of the aortoiliac bifurcation.
      • De Donato G.
      • Bosiers M.
      • Setacci F.
      • Deloose K.
      • Galzerano G.
      • Verbist J.
      • et al.
      24-month data from the BRAVISSIMO: a large-scale prospective registry on iliac stenting for TASC A & B and TASC C & D lesions.
      There is some evidence, including the randomized COBEST trial, that covered stents may be less likely to restenose or occlude than bare metal stents, particularly in TASC C and D lesions.
      • Mwipatayi B.P.
      • Thomas S.
      • Wong J.
      • Temple S.E.L.
      • Vijayan V.
      • Jackson M.
      • et al.
      A comparison of covered vs bare expandable stents for the treatment of aortoiliac occlusive disease.
      • Sabri S.S.
      • Choudhri A.
      • Orgera G.
      • Arslan B.
      • Turba U.C.
      • Harthun N.L.
      • et al.
      Outcomes of covered kissing stent placement compared with bare metal stent placement in the treatment of atherosclerotic occlusive disease at the aortic bifurcation.
      This may be because the graft fabric represents a direct barrier to tissue ingrowth from neointimal hyperplasia. This, along with concern about limb competition in a narrow distal aorta, led to the development of the covered endovascular reconstruction of aortic bifurcation (CERAB) technique, which uses three covered stents to cover the distal aorta and bilateral common iliac arteries.
      • Goverde P.C.
      • Grimme F.A.
      • Verbruggen P.J.
      • Reijnen M.M.
      Covered endovascular reconstruction of aortic bifurcation (CERAB) technique: a new approach in treating extensive aortoiliac occlusive disease.
      The CERAB technique has certain clear advantages: it is straightforward, allows for use of relatively low profile delivery systems (7-Fr and 9-Fr sheaths), and it is likely less costly than a stent-graft. Moreover, this technique has been shown to have excellent primary patency rates (87.3% at 1 year and 82.3% at 2 years).
      • Grimme F.A.
      • Goverde P.C.
      • Verbruggen P.J.
      • Zeebregts C.J.
      • Reijnen M.M.
      Editor's Choice—first results of the covered endovascular reconstruction of the aortic bifurcation (CERAB) technique for aortoiliac occlusive disease.
      Optimal configuration depends on precise placement of the limbs. In vitro data suggest that this technique can reduce radial mismatch compared with nitinol stenting or covered kissing stents in the aorta.
      • Groot Jebbink E.
      • Grimme F.A.B.
      • Goverde P.C.J.M.
      • van Oostayen J.A.
      • Slump C.H.
      • Reijnen M.M.P.J.
      Geometrical consequences of kissing stents and the Covered Endovascular Reconstruction of the Aortic Bifurcation configuration in an in vitro model for endovascular reconstruction of aortic bifurcation.
      However, radial mismatch is increased if the limbs are placed higher than the nonflared aortic stent. In addition, while the CERAB technique does recreate the aortic bifurcation, future crossover interventions may be more difficult. This is similar to most bifurcated aortic stent-grafts where the angle of engagement at the flow divider makes up-and-over access more challenging. Finally, dead space outside the proximal aortic stent can result in cases of aortic diameters > 20 mm. The aortic stent is then left protruding mal-opposed in a dilated aorta. Hence, this technique may not be indicated in the setting of even mild proximal aortic dilation.
      Treatment of occlusive disease at the aortic bifurcation using a unibody stent-graft offers several potential advantages when compared with these endovascular alternatives. The unibody design treats the occlusive disease with a covered stent while preserving the aortic bifurcation. By using fewer stents in the narrow aorta, this technique has the added advantage of minimizing potential flow disturbances introduced by multiple covered stents. Use of a unibody stent-graft is also protective in cases of potential rupture, such as in heavily calcified lesions. The use of a bifurcated stent-graft that encompasses the distal aorta and common iliac arteries may also reduce the risk of atheroembolic events compared with conventional endovascular therapy. Using this covered graft and positioning it proximal and distal to the limits of disease effectively traps atherosclerotic material that could potentially embolize during device deployment, reducing atheroembolic risk. Finally, unlike kissing stents (covered or uncovered), which can often protrude into the native aorta, disrupting flow and functionally raising the aortic bifurcation, a unibody device sits on and preserves the native bifurcation. This makes future “up-and-over” interventions to the lower extremities less technically challenging.
      As with any new treatment alternative, this treatment strategy has limitations. Compared with the placement of kissing stents, or even the CERAB technique, the AFX device requires a larger profile sheath (17-Fr ipsilateral sheath, 9-Fr contralateral). Placing a stent-graft also has a higher potential for coverage of collateral vessels, although in the present study this did not result in any adverse event. The procedure is more time consuming and requires a higher level of endovascular technical skill. We do not have information regarding the radial force in the AFX stent relative to standard balloon or self-expandable stents approved for treatment of occlusive disease. However, in its current state, the cobalt chromium component of the graft frequently appears to lack sufficient radial force, which likely contributed to the high rate of adjunctive stenting required (59%). This represents an important limitation of the current AFX design, which should be improved upon in future generations if it is to be considered a standalone treatment for AIOD. A flow model would be of great value to help better understand the behavior of the AFX stent in lesions of variable stiffness and thus help determine the necessary radial force required to prevent stent collapse in this setting. Finally, while cost-effectiveness cannot be evaluated without robust efficacy data and will fluctuate based upon local differences in costs, use of the AFX aorto-unibody stent-graft is likely to be more expensive than kissing stent placement.
      There are also several limitations to this study itself. As a retrospective review without any direct comparison to other treatment strategies, this study should be regarded principally as hypothesis generating. Furthermore, despite the fact that the vast majority of patients had extensive AIOD (TASC D), a selection bias is likely to present in this retrospective analysis. One of the key strengths of open AFB is its excellent long-term patency; while this study showed promising results at a mean follow-up of 22.2 ± 11.2months, longer-term patency data and randomized comparisons to open bypass would be useful.
      In addition, while excellent patency rates were demonstrated at the 1- and 2-year follow-ups, rivaling most endovascular techniques and open surgery, the restenosis rates are less precise. Owing to the heterogeneity of practice patterns across centers, the type of imaging obtained, as well as the surveillance schedule, was inconsistent, limiting the ability to comment accurately on rates of restenosis. Twenty-four percent of patients had no imaging on follow-up and assessment of need for reintervention and/or graft patency was based on clinical evaluation and/or vascular laboratory study.
      Another limitation of the present study is the use of ABI as a metric for improvement in flow. While 42% of patients showed a > 80% improvement in ABI, 20% showed only < 40% improvement. This can be explained in a number of ways. Perhaps those patients who had minimal improvement in ABI had more significant distal disease in addition to AIOD. Unfortunately, the study did not collect any information regarding presence of distal occlusive disease. Alternatively, this subset of patients who had minimal improvement in ABI may have had more calcified tibial vessels, making ABI less reliable. These patients may have had improvements in pulse volume recordings, which were, unfortunately, not captured for analysis.
      Finally, in addition to the valuable end points of mortality, complications, and patency, any treatment for symptomatic peripheral arterial occlusive disease would benefit from assessment of patient-reported outcomes such as quality of life; future studies of this technique should include such measures.

      Conclusions

      This is the largest study to examine the use of the AFX unibody stent-graft for the treatment of AIOD. It was found that the procedure had a high rate of technical success and low mortality rate, even in relatively ill patients with TASC C and D lesions. Patency rates throughout follow-up compare well with both open aortobifemoral bypass and other endovascular treatment options such as kissing stents and the CERAB technique, as quoted in the literature. Use of the AFX stent-graft appears to be a safe and effective endovascular treatment for complex aortoiliac occlusive pathology that might otherwise require aorto-bifemoral or extra-anatomic bypass.

      Conflict of Interest

      M.M.P.J.R. and Z.M.A. have served as consultants and advisory board members for Endologix. A.J.D. has served as a consultant for Endologix. H.E.G.Jr and T.S. have received honoraria from Endologix for teaching.

      Funding

      None.

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