Extent of heel ulceration influences the outcomes in patients with isolated infrapopliteal limb threatening critical ischemia

Qi Yan, Lalithapriya Jayakumar, Matthew J. Sideman, Lucas Ferrer, Christopher Mitromaras, Dimitrios Miserlis, Mark G. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of the extent of heel ulceration on the outcomes of limb threatening critical ischemia due to isolated infrapopliteal disease. Methods: A retrospective review identified 989 patients with isolated infrapopliteal disease and heel ulceration treated from 2001 to 2018. The heel was defined as the back of the foot, extending from the Achilles tendon to around the plantar surface and covering the apex of the calcaneum bone. Heel ulceration was categorized into three groups by area: <5 cm2, 5 to 10 cm2, and >10 cm2. The interventions were endovascular, open bypass, major amputation, and wound care. An intention-to-treat analysis by patient group was performed. The 30-day outcomes and amputation-free survival (AFS; survival without a major amputation) were evaluated. Results: Of the 989 patients, 384 (58% male; average age, 65 years; n = 768 vessels) had undergone isolated endovascular tibial intervention, 124 (45% male; average age, 59 years) had undergone popliteal tibial vein bypass for limb threatening critical ischemia, 219 (52% male; average age, 67 years) had undergone major amputation, and 242 (49% male; average age, 66 years) had received wound care. No difference was found in the 30-day major adverse cardiac events in the endovascular and open bypass groups, with significantly more events in the major amputation group (P = .03). The 30-day major adverse limb events and 30-day amputation rates were equivalent between the open bypass and endovascular groups. The 5-year AFS rate was superior in the open bypass group (37% ± 8%; mean ± standard error of the mean) compared with the endovascular group (27% ± 9%; P = .04). The wound care group had a 5-year AFS rate of 20% ± 9%, which was not significantly different from that of the endovascular group. Patients with heel ulcers of <5 cm2 had better AFS (47% ± 8%) than those with 5- to 10- cm2 heel ulceration (24% ± 9%). Heel ulcers >10 cm2 were associated with markedly worse 5-year AFS outcomes (0% ± 0%). The presence of end-stage renal disease, osteomyelitis, uncontrolled diabetes (hemoglobin A1c >10%), and/or frailty combined with a heel ulcer >10 cm2 were predictive of poor AFS. Conclusions: An increasing heel ulcer area combined with osteomyelitis and systemic comorbidities was associated with worsening 30-day outcomes and 5-year AFS, irrespective of the therapy chosen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1731-1740.e2
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Amputation
  • Bypass
  • Endovascular
  • Heel ulceration
  • Limb threatening critical ischemia
  • Wound care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery


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