- OBJECTIVES: to investigate the relationship between calf vessel run-off assessed by hand-held Doppler, graft patency and patient survival following infra-inguinal graft surgery. DESIGN: prospective cohort study of 258 consecutive patients undergoing infra-inguinal bypass grafts in one centre between 1995-99. MATERIALS AND METHODS: ankle Doppler auditory waveform characteristics were documented for patients considered for infra-inguinal bypass grafting. Doppler signals from the anterior tibial, posterior tibial and dorsalis pedis arteries were scored triphasic/biphasic (2), monophasic (1) or absent (0). A total Doppler run off score (0-6) was calculated. Following surgery graft surveillance was undertaken using duplex ultrasound at 6, 12, 26 and 52 weeks. Graft and patient survival were analysed using Cox regression analysis. RESULTS: overall primary assisted graft patency at one year was 80%. With an increasing Doppler score from 0 to 6, primary assisted graft patency steadily rose from 50% to 100% (p = 0.0002), accompanied by a steady fall in patient mortality from 50% to 5% (p = 0.0003).