Underutilization of Palliative Care for Patients with Advanced Peripheral Arterial Disease

Mimmie Kwong, Eleanor E. Curtis, Matthew Mell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Advanced peripheral arterial disease is associated with an overall annual mortality between 20–40%. Amputees are at particularly high risk for perioperative and long-term mortality and may benefit from palliative care programs to improve quality of life and to align medical treatments with their goals of care. As studies of palliative care in vascular patients are scarce, we sought to examine palliative care utilization using below knee amputation (BKA) as a surrogate for advanced peripheral arterial disease. Methods: All patients who underwent below knee amputation over a 5-year period at a single large academic medical center were identified through chart review. Demographics, preoperative conditions, intraoperative factors, and perioperative outcomes were recorded. The primary outcome was palliative care consultation at the time of the amputation. The secondary outcomes included one-year mortality and palliative care consultation prior to death. Results: The cohort comprised 111 patients (76 men, 35 women) who received BKA for chronic limb threatening ischemia. Three patients (2.7%) received palliative care consultations at the time of their amputation. Of these, one had been obtained remotely for an oncologic condition and the others for surgical decision-making. Follow-up was available for 73 patients. One-year mortality was 21.9% (n = 16) at a mean of 102 ± 86 days after BKA. Among patients who died within 1 year of their amputation, 37.5% (n = 6) received palliative care consultations prior to their death. The median interval between amputation and palliative consultation was 26 (IQR 14–81) days. The median interval between palliative consultation and death was 9 (IQR 4–39) days. Conclusion: Palliative care services were rarely provided to patients with advanced peripheral arterial disease. When obtained, consultations occurred closer to death than to amputation suggesting a missed opportunity to receive the benefits of early evaluation. Future studies can be aimed at identifying a cohort of vascular patients who would most benefit from early palliative evaluation and determining if palliative consultations alter health care utilization patterns and outcomes for vascular patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Amputation
  • Amputee
  • Below Knee Amputation
  • Chronic Limb Threatening Ischemia
  • Hospice
  • Mortality
  • Palliative Care
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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