We reviewed the records of approximately 1,500 patients seen in the Vascular Laboratory of the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center from 1980 to 1987 and identified 23 patients (25 limbs) who met all of the following criteria: 1) an ankle/brachial index less than or equal to 0.35; 2) an ankle or transmetatarsal pulse volume recording less than or equal to 3 mm in amplitude; and 3) no history of ischemic rest pain or gangrene. These patients were followed in the Vascular Laboratory for periods ranging from 11 to 127 months (mean 45.2 months). The study was terminated in March 1991 or when revascularization or amputation was required for limb-threatening symptoms or if the patient expired. Thirteen extremities (52%) showed no progression to limb-threatening symptoms. Claudication actually improved in three, remained unchanged in eight, and progressed in two. Twelve (48%) extremities developed limb-threatening conditions, with rest pain occurring in three, ischemic ulceration in six and gangrene in three. Eight of these limbs underwent revascularization and only one ultimately required major amputation. Another extremity presented with extensive gangrene and underwent a primary above-knee amputation. Three other patients did not undergo revascularization because of death in one and refusal in two others. Patients with intermittent claudication who have critical hemodynamic indices are at much greater risk for developing symptomatic limb-threatening ischemia. Close follow-up is mandatory since nearly half of these patients will eventually require operation for limb salvage. Patients who are unlikely to comply with a regular follow-up program may be considered for early revascularization to prevent complications of limb-threatening ischemia.
- hemodynamic indices
- limb salvage
- peripheral vascular disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine