Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is a severe condition that occurs when there is a significant blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities, markedly reducing blood flow. This lack of blood flow can lead to tissue damage, pain, and even limb loss.
Symptoms of CLI:
Severe pain in the legs or feet, even at rest: This pain is often described as a burning or aching sensation and can be worse at night.
Non-healing ulcers or wounds on the legs or feet: These ulcers can be shallow or deep and may ooze pus or have a foul odor.
Gangrene: This is the death of tissue due to lack of blood flow. Gangrene can appear as black or brown discoloration of the skin and may have a foul odor.
Coldness in the affected limb: The affected limb may feel cold to the touch compared to the other limb.
Hair loss on the affected limb: Hair loss can occur on the legs or feet due to lack of blood flow to the hair follicles.
Shiny, smooth skin on the affected limb: The skin on the affected limb may become shiny and smooth due to loss of muscle and tissue.
Causes of CLI:
Atherosclerosis: This is the buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) in the arteries, which can narrow or block them.
Blood clots: Blood clots can form in the arteries and block blood flow.
Vasculitis: This is inflammation of the blood vessels, which can damage them and narrow them.
Diabetes: Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves, increasing the risk of CLI.
Smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of atherosclerosis.
Treatment for CLI:
Treatment for CLI depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Treatment options may include:
Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can help improve blood flow and reduce the risk of complications.
Medications: Medications such as blood thinners and cholesterollowering drugs can help improve blood flow. Angioplasty and stenting: This procedure involves opening up the narrowed or blocked arteries with a balloon and then inserting a stent to keep them open.
Bypass surgery: This surgery creates a new pathway for blood to flow around the blocked artery.
Amputation: In some cases, amputation may be necessary if the tissue is too damaged to be saved.
Complications of CLI: CLI is a serious condition that can lead to serious complications, including:
If you think you may have CLI, it is important to seek medical care immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve your quality of life.
Dr Paul "Getting Colder" Betschart
The Foot Book Doctor
Healthy Feet Happy Life
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