Category Archives: vascular surgery

Axillo-hepatic-profunda bypass?

Say what?

That was my response when my vascular surgery mentor from med school told me about her plan.

“Yap, I’ve done it before. It’s the only viable option we have left.

The patient is a Caucasian female in her late 50s. She has extensive aorto-iliac occlusive disease, and status post past aorto-bifem bypasses that failed and salvaged with stents and fem-fem. The fem-fem then failed and more stents were placed. She is now presenting with postprandial abdominal pain, weight loss and food fear, a classic triad of chronic mesenteric ischemia, as well as right sided lower extremity rest pain. Her aorta had extensive calcification throughout, including the supraceliac region, and there was no inflow site adequate for an aorto-mesenteric bypass. Fortunately, extra-anatomical bypass was never done for her in the past. Duplex revealed retrograde flow at common hepatic artery and CT revealed a patent hepatic artery despite severe stenosis at other splanchnic vessels. CT with runoff showed a patent right profunda artery with distal collateralization.

So the outline of bypass was something like this:

In the end, the patient gained palpable right lower extremity pulses and audible doppler signal throughout the branches of her SMA.

Some takeaways and pointers from this procedures are listed below:

  • Tunneling via midaxillary line if axillo-fem bypass only; tunneled deep to the pectoralis major and into the abdominal cavity under the costal margin if axillo-mesenteric bypass. In this case, the tunneling was via right midaxillary line but one of the bifurcated limb of graft was swung over the costal margin into the peritoneal cavity.
  • Third part of axillary artery after emerging from pec minor was used for inflow. This part of axillary artery gives simpler exposure (need to split pec minor/major if more proximal part is used).
  • Ringed PTFE graft for simple procedure (no need for vein harvest) and it is protected from kinking compared to GSV.  However, if bowel were infarcted then GSV preferred due to less likelihood of graft infection.
  • Greater omentum was first sutured around the entry point of the graft into the abdomen and then invaginated over the main body of the graft using interrupted Vicryl suture to exclude it from peritoneal cavity.
  • Interposing vein collar/cuff was not used, but it might have been a good idea…
  • The smaller size of graft is preferred (8mm). A larger diameter will result in slower velocity, increasing the buildup of pseudointima.
  • Endarterectomy of visceral arterial ostium not possible due to no clamping site at supraceliac aorta due to calcification. However, this might be an option if clamp site as present (or do a thoraco-hepatic-profunda bypass)
  • Endovascular intervention was out in this case due to prior aorto-bifem (thrombosed proximal CFA) and supraceliac calcification (rendering brachial approach difficult).
  • Axillary inflow might just serve as a bridging procedure to allow temporary clinical stabilization and definitive reconstruction at a later date. However, in this patient it will likely serve as definitive repair.
  • Renal arteries were patent in this patient, so even though aortic plaque usually originates at the infrarenal aorta, this patient just had ostial lesions at the visceral branches and atherosclerosis of supra celiac region, which represent a rarer progression of aortic atherosclerosis.

If one knows what she is doing, one can achieve great things in what seems to first timers as really funky ways.

SVS Annual Meeting – A Carnival of Expert Surgeons and Professors

This is my 5th day in the stunning San Diego for the 2017 annual meeting of Society of Vascular Surgery. I would just like to say that a less than a week of exposure among these brightest minds of vascular surgery beats months of clinical rotation. You name it: cutting edge research symposium and lectures, technique simulation and practice, exhibition of new technologies for the OR, networking with renouned surgeons and professors (Dr. Frank Veith!), and even mock interviews with program directors. I would highly recommend this event to anyone who is interested in any surgical specialties, or just want to explore the still not-so-well-known field of vascular surgery. They are generous with their scholarships, so apply for them and they just might pay for your trip next time.

Take What’s Given to You

I attended the WNY vascular surgery symposium this weekend, and something Dr. Bower, chair of vascular surgery at Mayo Clinic said really resonated with me. He told the young surgeons and trainees in the audience to “take what’s given to you”.

Let me give this a little more context. Dr. Bower was talking about the slick open IVC reconstruction that they perform for primary and secondary thrombosis of IVC, and he was saying that one really has to look hard at feeding branches of these big vessels and control them as much as possible to prevent hemorrhage. I believe this notion can be applied to all surgeries, and to life. Not everyone is made the same way, just look at the variants of the aortic arch. Therefore, if life hands you a lemon, or take one away from you, you should be able to take advantage of the situation and change on the fly.

Image result for ivc reconstruction

Us medical students spend years learning about basic and clinical science. We learn about pathognomonic findings and evidence based guidelines. These information serve to steer us to the right clinical decision. To be able to adapt, however, we need to master these basic knowledge, go through rigorous training, and collect immense amount of experience. Eventually, when life hands you a lemon (you expose the IVC and find aberrant renal vein), you slice it and put it in a Corona (vessel loop, ligate, re-implant, etc).

Don’t blindly stick to any “rules”. Rules are there to guide you, but not define you. Be able to adapt to the situation, and do what’s best in each individual situation. Take what’s given to you, and milk the heck out of it.

Infra-popliteal bypass – longest case by far

Below is a short and sweet version of the longest surgical case thus far in my short and sweet medical career:

Patient is a 47 years old Caucasian male with IDDM, past stroke, past DVT, PVD, and HTN. He has a dry gangrenous ulcer in the plantar aspect of his right first metatarsal, and occlusion of anterior tibial artery. He is scheduled to undergo femoral to peroneal artery bypass with great saphenous vein.

Image result for popliteal to peroneal bypass

Common femoral artery cut down was performed first for pre-op angiogram; this was partially due to the uncertainty of where exactly the occlusion is and patient’s vascular anatomy. We saw completely occlusion of the anterior tibial artery and distal portion of the posterior tibial artery after the takeoff of peroneal artery. The popliteal artery and peroneal artery were patent. Next, the deep compartment of the mid calf was dissected from the medial leg to skeletonize the peroneal artery. We also skeletonized the popliteal artery because we decided convert the procedure to popliteal to peroneal bypass. Afterwards, we proceeded to looko for the GSV in the medial malleolus, but the vein was too small (lower threshold is 3mm in diameter, but ours was much less). Therefore, we retrieved the GSV from up to, following the sephaneous-femoral-junction. Finally, we heparinized, dilated and anastomosed the venous conduit. Due to the difficult, delicate dissection of the deep compartment of the leg, difficulty exposing the GSV, the changing of procedural planning intra-op, and not having the imaging study pre-op made the whole case around 10 hours. Luckily, the goal of re-perfusing the foot as accomplished, with biphasic pulse on doppler post-op.

The take away from this case is for me is the importance of being prepared before diving in. The fascinating part about vascular surgery for me is the options of choosing your strategies for the battle – like a tactician – may it be open, endovascular, medical, or expectant management. The choices branch out further with each category of treatment. However, in this case since we didn’t have a strong plan going in, we were not able to change our plan smoothly on the fly. The result? 10 hours of anesthesia for patient instead of 6. On a good note, there were lots of dissections and anatomy structures that I learned, rather serendipitously I would say though…

Finally, I learned the luxury of having a stool in a marathon case.