Surgery versus thrombolysis for the initial management of acute limb ischaemia

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We identified no new studies for this update. We included five trials with a total of 1292 participants; agents used for thrombolysis were recombinant tissue plasminogen activator and urokinase. Trials were generally of moderate methodological quality. The quality of evidence according to GRADE was generally low owing to risk of bias (lack of blinding), imprecision in estimates, and heterogeneity.

Trial results showed no clear differences in limb salvage, amputation, or death at 30 days (odds ratio (OR) 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.41 to 2.55, 4 studies, 636 participants; OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.85, 3 studies, 616 participants; OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.31 to 1.14, 4 studies, 636 participants, respectively), and we rated the evidence as low, low, and moderate quality, respectively. Trial results show no clear differences for any of the three outcomes at six months or one year between initial surgery and initial thrombolysis. A single study evaluated vessel patency, so no overall association could be determined (OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.08 to 2.76, 20 participants; very low-quality evidence). Evidence of increased risk of major haemorrhage (OR 3.22, 95% CI 1.79 to 5.78, 4 studies, 1070 participants; low-quality evidence) and distal embolisation (OR 31.68, 95% CI 6.23 to 161.07, 3 studies, 678 participants; very low-quality evidence) was associated with thrombolysis treatment at 30 days, and there was no clear difference in stroke (OR 5.33, 95% CI 0.95 to 30.11, 5 studies, 1180 participants; low-quality evidence). Participants treated by initial thrombolysis had a greater reduction in the level of intervention required, compared with a pre-intervention prediction, at 30 days (OR 9.06, 95% CI 4.95 to 16.56, 2 studies, 502 participants). None of the included studies evaluated time to thrombolysis as an outcome.