Risk Factors for Critical Limb Ischemia
CLI is an advanced stage of peripheral artery disease (PAD) and the result of a progressive build up of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Over time, the plaque hardens, narrowing or blocking blood flow. Risk factors for critical limb ischemia include:
- Age (men over 60 and women after menopause)
- History of Smoking
- Overweight or obesity
- Lack of daily exercise
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Family history of vascular disease
Symptoms of Critical Limb Ischemia
Patients with CLI commonly experience:
- Pain and/or numbness in the legs when at rest. Pain is often alleviated by standing or walking.
- A noticeable decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot compared to the rest of your body.
- Foot ulcers or sores that are slow to heal.
- Shiny, smooth, dry skin in the legs or feet/
- Thickening of the toenails.
Diagnosis for Critical Limb Ischemia
The process for diagnosing CLI is the same as our process for diagnosing Peripheral Arterial Disease. The first step is a venous consult. We will conduct diagnostic tests to determine the blood pressure in your legs.
The initial diagnostic tests for CLI are quick, painless and non-invasive. Typically, the first test is an ankle brachial index (ABI), which involves placing blood pressure cuffs on the arms and legs to compare the blood pressure of each.
Our doctors may also perform an ultrasound examination, to evaluate your arterial system. This test allows us to see the speed, direction and force of blood flow in the vessels.
If a blockage is detected, our doctors may perform an angiography, which is an x-ray of the arteries. This examination is conducted in our outpatient center.
Treatment for Critical Limb Ischemia
Prompt treatment for CLI is necessary to avoid amputation and re-establish healthy blood flow. Our doctors will evaluate your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan to alleviate painful symptoms and improve your blood flow. Our top priority is to preserve the limb and improve mobility.
We may work with your primary care physician to prescribe a medication that will reduce the contributing factors to CLI such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Medications that prevent blood clots may also be effective.
At Vascular & Leg Center, we specialize in minimally invasive treatments that are completed in our office. Common treatments for CLI include:
- Laser Atherectomy
If endovascular therapy is not effective, the doctor may recommend bypass surgery to reroute blood flow in the legs.