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The value of short-term anticoagulant treatment in improving the early outcome in patients operated on for acute lower-limb ischemia has been debated and so far unproven. In this prospective randomized multi-center study, 188 such patients were randomized on admission, either to preoperative and postoperative anticoagulant medication (AC group, n = 94) or no anticoagulant treatment during the first month after surgery (O group, n = 94). Background factors were evenly distributed in the two groups, and 89% of the cases were considered as embolic. Analysis on an intention-to-treat basis showed no differences in outcome after 30 days. Good results, survivors who had amputation, and patients who died in the two groups are given respectively: AC group, 61%, 9%, 30%; O group, 65%, 11%, 24%. The results were similar in the two treatment groups also if only patients with a cardiac source of embolism were analyzed. Local bleeding complications were more common in the AC group (17% vs 2%, p < 0.01). It is concluded that preoperative and early postoperative anticoagulant medication should not be routinely administered since such treatment is unlikely to improve the short-term results of lower-limb arterial thromboembolectomy while bleeding complications increase. The possible value of late (beyond 1 month) long-term anticoagulant treatment remains to be studied.
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Accepted: July 20, 1990
☆Supported by grants from The Swedish National Foundation for Heart and Lung diseases. Tore Nilsons Foundation for Medical Research, the Gothenburg Medical Society, The Swedish Medical Society, and the Swedish Medical Research Council (00759).
© 1991 Published by Elsevier Inc.