Survey of the use of thrombolysis for acute limb ischaemia in the UK and Ireland

J. J. Earnshaw*, J. F.L. Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A total of 156 vascular surgeons from the UK and Ireland responded to a postal questionnaire on the use of thrombolysis in acute limb ischaemia. Almost half had used thrombolysis in the previous 12 months. Low dose intra‐arterial streptokinase (89 per cent) was the regimen most frequently used, but 33 per cent had used intravenous streptokinase. Detailed results for 103 patients (limb salvage rate 60 per cent, amputation rate 35 per cent, mortality rate 5 per cent) were similar to those of previously published reports. Complications in most series were infrequent, but in the entire survey there were six bleeding‐related deaths and one death from anaphylaxis. A total of 67 per cent of surgeons with working experience indicated that selected patients with acute arterial thromboses were most suitable for thrombolysis, particularly if there was no neurological deficit and no run‐off for surgical bypass. Distal or late emboli and graft occlusions were regarded as appropriate by some surgeons. This study demonstrated that many vascular surgeons currently use thrombolysis, although sparingly and in selected cases. Patients with acute limb ischaemia should be managed by experienced vascular surgeons who are aware of the new therapeutic alternatives, an ideal supported by almost three‐quarters of respondents to this survey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1042
Number of pages2
JournalBritish Journal of Surgery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Thromboembolism
  • fibrinolysis
  • streptokinase
  • tissue plasminogen activator


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