Cardiology: Acute Limb Ischaemia

Acute Limb Ischaemia Notes

Acute Limb Ischaemia
This occurs when there is blockage of a peripheral artery, either from a thromboembolism, or sometimes from an embolic plaque:
-          Thrombus in situ - 40%
-          Emboli – 38%
-          Angioplasty occlusion – 15%
-          Trauma
-          Compartment syndrome - rare
Signs and Symptoms
Classically, the SIX P’s
-          Pulseless
-          Parasthaesia
-          Pain – muscles also become tender to palpation after about 6-8hours
-          Paralysis
-          Pallor
-          Perishing cold
-          Fixed mottling of the skin implies irreversibility
-          BEWARE – hot red leg may sometimes be present, which can result in misdiagnosis of gout or cellulitis
You can roughly localise the blockage by locating the bifurcation distal to the last palpable pulse.
Diagnosis is clinical
-          It is an EMERGENCY!
o   22% of cases are fatal
o   16% of cases result in amputation
-          Thrombolytic agent e.g. tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)most effective when given via local arterial catheter (Fogarty Catheter), particularly for occlusions <2 weeks. Therapy is usually given via the catheter for 8-24hr
-          Open surgery / angioplasty – DONT BE AFRAID TO DO THESE! – equally, don’t be afraid to do angiography in cases of an unsure diagnosis.
o   The decision to opt for thrombolysis over surgery depends on risk assessment on an individual patient basis (i.e. risks of surgery vs risks of thrombolysis)
o   You should use heparin anticoagulation after both surgery and thrombolysis!
After initial treatment
-          Look for a source of emboli – e.g. ultrasounds of aorta, popliteal and femoral arteries for signs of aneurysm
-          Watch out for reperfusion injury – which can lead to compartment syndrome

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