BACKGROUND: Total occlusion of the infrarenal abdominal aorta is a very rare disease in clinical practice. The clinical outcome may be poor unless management is attempted promptly. Surgical bypass has been recommended as the treatment of choice for these lesions. However, there was relatively high surgical mortality and morbidity associad with aorto-bifemoral bypass graft in patients with other systemic disease, especially coronary artery disease. As a result, the use of, thrombolysis with percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) has recently been extended to this disease as an alternative method to surgery. PTA is technically simpler with less morbidity and mortality than surgery.We report our experience with thrombolysis and balloon angioplasty of total aortic occlusion in 14 patients between March 1991 and December 1996. METHODS: Fourteen patients, whose mean age was 59+/-13 years (11 male, 3 female), serve as the study's patients. Aortography was introduced via transbrachial artery. The end hole multipurpose catheter with guidewire was introduced into the thrombotic portion of the total occlusion. Urokinase was infused into the thrombus through the catheter if there were no contraindications. in sysremic thrombolysis. Thrombolytic therapy was continued until the thrombi was resolved and flow was restored. Balloon dilatation was followed in residual stenotic lesions. Stents were implanted in case of suboptimal results after ballooning. RESULTS: Clinical findings were resting leg pain in 6 patients, gangrene in 5 patients, and claudication in 3 patients. The causes of aortic occlusion were thromboembolism in 4 patients and thrombosis of an atherosclerotic aorta in 10 patients. Location of obstruction was below the renal artery in all cases. The clinical outcome of interventional therapy was successful in all cases except one patients. Operative treatment was undertaken in 2 cases because they could not received thrombolytic therapy due to contraindication and complication of thrombolytic therapy (gastrointestinal bleeding). Near normal revascularization was achieved in 3 patients by thrombolytic therapy only. PTA was performed at the stenotic after thrombolytic therapy in 4 patients. Stenting were performed at the stenotic sites after balloon dilatation in another 4 patients. There was bleeding complication in one case. CONCLUSIONS: Interventional therapy such as thrombolytic therapy with PTA is an effective and safe treatment modality for abdominal aortic total occlusion in selected cases. These techniques were very useful in some high risk patients who received surgical bypass procedures.