Critical limb ischemia

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Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is a severe obstruction of the arteries which drastically reduces blood flow to the extremities (hands, feet and legs) and has progressed to the point of severe pain and even skin ulcers or sores. CLI is an advanced stage of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that results from a buildup of plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the head, organs, and limbs.

Causes[edit | edit source]

The primary cause of CLI is atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries. This plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organs and other parts of the body. Other causes can include embolism, thrombosis, and vasculitis.

Symptoms[edit | edit source]

Symptoms of CLI include severe pain or numbness in the feet or toes, even while resting; wounds on the feet or toes that won't heal or heal very slowly; and gangrene. A person with CLI may also have shiny, smooth, dry skin of the legs or feet, and loss of hair on the legs and feet.

Diagnosis[edit | edit source]

CLI is diagnosed through a physical examination and the use of imaging tests. These tests can include angiography, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), and computed tomography angiography (CTA).

Treatment[edit | edit source]

Treatment for CLI aims to reduce pain, heal ulcers, prevent limb loss, improve quality of life and increase mobility. Treatment options include medications, angioplasty and surgery. In some cases, amputation may be necessary.

Prognosis[edit | edit source]

Without treatment, CLI can lead to amputation of the affected limb. With treatment, the prognosis for CLI can be good, but it depends on a variety of factors including the severity of the disease and the patient's overall health.

See also[edit | edit source]

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD