Critical Limb Ischemia Treatment
Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) is a condition that occurs when not enough blood reaches the legs. The decreased blood flow occurs because of blockages in the arteries. CLI is the most serious form of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), caused by atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to the buildup of fatty deposits called plaque.
CLI can cause severe leg pain, mostly in the calf and foot, which is often made worse when you lie down and is improved with sitting or standing. With CLI, you may also have problems with non-healing wounds on your legs and feet. If left untreated, these complications can result in amputation.
If you’ve been told you need an amputation or are at risk due to CLI, get a second opinion by calling for an evaluation today. For many patients, our outpatients procedures can be an effective alternative to amputation and allow you to keep your limb.
What You Need To Know
Early detection and prevention can help prevent disease progression. Risk factors include:
- Over 50 years old
- Current or former tobacco use
- Overweight or obesity
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Family history of atherosclerosis or claudication (pain in lower extremities that occurs with activity and subsides with rest)
The most common features of CLI include:
- Sores or wounds on the feet and toes that do not heal
- Dry gangrene (dry, black skin) of the legs or feet
- Severe pain or numbness in the calves and feet
- Shiny, smooth, dry skin of the legs or feet
- Thickening of the toenails
- Absent or diminished pulse in the legs or feet
Critical Limb Ischemia is a serious condition that requires urgent treatment to re-establish blood flow to the affected limbs. The treatment goal is to prevent amputation, relieve pain and allow non-healing wounds to heal. Blood flow is restored using minimally invasive endovascular techniques or open surgical bypass grafts.
Minimally invasive endovascular procedures have excellent outcomes, with the majority of patients experiencing pain resolution and wound healing. In the last decade there have been tremendous advances in devices and techniques to treat blocked arteries, allowing most patients to avoid open surgical procedures. The location and severity of the blockages determine the specific treatment(s) used. Some of those procedures include:
- Angioplasty (balloons to open the artery) – A catheter with a balloon is passed through the blocked artery. Once inflated, the balloon compresses the plaque against the wall of the artery.
- Atherectomy (devices used to remove the plaque inside the artery) – A special catheter is used to gently shave and remove plaque from the arteries.
- Stent Implantation (small pieces of metal to hold open the artery) – During angioplasty, a tiny metal mesh tube called a stent may be placed in the artery to help hold it open.
What To Expect
Once we work with you to determine a treatment plan, one of our vascular staff or interventional radiologists will review any pre- and post-instructions for your procedure. We will explain your procedure so you know exactly what to expect. If you have questions, at any time, please ask. We want you to feel informed every step of the way.
If you’ve been told you need an amputation or are at risk due to CLI, get a second opinion by calling for an evaluation today. For many patients, our procedures can help restore blood flow and be an effective alternative to amputation.