In order to assess the role of drug-coated balloons (DCB) in below-the-knee (BTK) artery interventions, we analyzed randomized trials which compare coated to non-coated balloons and additionally a direct comparison of drug-eluting stents (DES) with DCB. As angioplasty with non-coated balloons is per guideline-recommendation still standard of care for below-the-knee artery endovascular treatment, we focused on the direct comparison of efficacy and clinical outcome data of both treatment modalities. Data from peer reviewed and published trials were consulted. For each single study, primary and secondary endpoints were reported and compared. Three single-center, non-core lab adjudicated trials showed encouraging data which suggests that DCB in BTK arteries effectively inhibit the risk of early restenosis, but the pivotal, prospectively randomized, multicenter, core lab adjudicated trials failed to match with these result. Limitations of DEB treatment and trials in BTK arteries had been reported, hence a technical evaluation of possible side effects of DCB treatment and of trial design was taken into account. On the basis of the results available, the distinguishing findings of drug eluting effects in the femoropopliteal region cannot be transferred to BTK arteries. Refinement of the existing DCB technology and of future trial design should be considered. To adjudicate on DCB technology applied for BTK treatment is premature and it is mandatory to be kept under evaluation, because the potential benefit, with respect to the compelling results in the femoropoliteal arteries, could be huge to improve endovascular BTK and especially CLI treatment.
J Cardiovasc Surg (Torino) (The Journal of cardiovascular surgery)
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