INTRODUCTION Embolism is one of the most frequent causes of lower limbs acute arterial occlusion . Of the total number of peripheral embolism 56% of cases involve lower limbs arteries . Inadequate and late treatment of the lower limbs embolism is associated with high morbidity and mortality rate. The aim of this paper was to study the aetiology of lower limbs embolism and to detect factors influencing early and late results after the operative treatment. PATIENTS AND METHODS The study included 204 patients with 224 lower limbs embolism, treated surgically at the Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases of the Clinical Centre of Serbia in Belgrade in the period between 1993 and 1997. There were 107 (52.2%) female and 97 (47.8%) male patients. Thirty two (14.3%) patients were younger than 50 years, 64 (28.6%) were between 51 and 65, 101 (45.1%) between 66-75, while 27 patients (12.1%), were older than 75. Twenty (8.9%) patients were admitted less than 6 hours before the operation, 79 (33.3%) between 6 and 24 hours, and 125 (55.8%) more than 24 hours before the operation (Table 1). One hundred (53.6%) patients had motor and 133 (59.4%) sensor paralysis on admission. Table 2 shows arterial localization of the lower limbs embolism. The popliteal artery was involved in most cases. During the operation transfemoral arterial approach was used in 132 (58.9%) cases, while transpopliteal in 92 (41.1%) cases. Fourteen cases required bypass surgery, 43 fasciotomy, 2 intraoperative streptokinase and 4 intraoperative angiography. All patients were controlled using physical and CW Doppler ultrasonographic examinations immediately after the operation, and then one, six and 12 months, as well as every year. RESULTS In 173 (84.4%) patients cardiac causes of embolism were found, in 8 (3.9%) noncardiac, while in 8 (3.9%) the cause could not be established. Of all cardiac causes absolute arrhythmia was most frequent. Table 3 and Table 4 show the aetiology of the lower limb embolism. The early amputation rate was 23 (10.3%) cases, while limb salvage was recorded in 174 (77.7%) patients. Of all saved limbs complete recovery was noted in 162 (72.4%) cases and peroneal nerve paresis in 12 (5.3%) cases. The early postoperative mortality rate was 27 (12.0%). Table 5 shows early results of embolectomy. The early results (limb salvage, complete recovery, rethrombosis, early reoperations, amputations rate, morbidity and mortality rate) of embolectomy were statistically significant: worse in cases when the embolus was located in the abdominal aorta and popliteal artery; in cases with a long time interval before the operation as well as in patients with sensor-motoric paralysis on admission (Tables 6-8). Of the total number of patients in 87 (56.5%) cases a late control examination was carried out. Forty nine (31.8%) patients died before the late control, while 18 (11.7%) did not come to control examination. Late recidivation of embolism was found in 3 cases. In these patients the cause could not be found, and they were treated by anticoagulant drugs.