Variability in Antithrombotic Therapy After Infrainguinal Lower Extremity Bypass

Published:September 19, 2022DOI:



      Antiplatelet monotherapy is recommended after infrainguinal lower extremity bypass (LEB). However, there is a paucity of high-quality data to guide therapy, and antiplatelet therapy is often prescribed in combination with anticoagulation. We therefore aimed to assess the variability in use of antithrombotic therapy after infrainguinal LEB.


      The Vascular Quality Initiative dataset (2015-2021) was retrospectively reviewed to determine discharge patterns of antithrombotic therapy for all patients undergoing infrainguinal LEB. Monotherapy on discharge was defined as either single antiplatelet therapy (SAPT) or single anticoagulant (SAC). Combination therapy was dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT), anticoagulant + antiplatelet (ACAP), or triple therapy. Hierarchical multivariable logistic regression with random effects for physician and center was used to identify predictors of combination therapy. Median odds ratios (MOR) were derived to quantify degree of variability in antithrombotic therapy.


      There were 29,507 patients undergoing infrainguinal LEB (monotherapy = 10,634 vs combination therapy = 18,873). SAPT (90.6%) was the most common form of monotherapy, while DAPT (57.7%) and ACAP (34.6%) were the most common combination therapies. Patients undergoing LEB to popliteal targets were more likely to be prescribed monotherapy (SAC or SAPT) than to infra-popliteal targets (60.6% vs 56.6%, P<.001). Combination therapy (DAPT, ACAP, or triple therapy) was more often used in patients with tibial or plantar arteries as the bypass target. Patients undergoing bypass using autogenous vein were more likely to receive monotherapy compared with those receiving other conduits (64.8% vs 52.9%, P<.001), while patients with prosthetic grafts were more likely to receive combination therapy (37.9% vs 28.2%, P<.001). There were no significant differences in post-operative bleeding (P=.491) or 30-day mortality (P=.302) between the two groups. Prior peripheral vascular interventions (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.79 - 1.99), concomitant peripheral vascular intervention (OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.66 - 2.02), prosthetic graft use (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.64 - 1.85), prior percutaneous coronary intervention (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.43 - 1.65), plantar distal target (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.29 - 1.65), alternative conduits (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.25 - 1.53), and tibial distal targets (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.28 - 1.44) were independent predictors of combination therapy in a multivariable regression model. Upon adjusting for patient-level factors, there was significant physician-level (MOR: 1.65, 95% CI 1.61-1.67) and center-level (MOR: 1.64, 95% CI 1.57-1.69) variability in the selection of antithrombotic therapy.


      Significant physician- and center-level variability in the use of antithrombotic regimens after infrainguinal bypass reflects the paucity of available evidence to guide therapy. Pragmatic trials are needed to assess antithrombotic strategies and guide recommendations aimed at optimizing cardiovascular and graft-specific outcomes after lower extremity bypass.


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