Critical limb ischemia

Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2010 Jun;12(3):214-29. doi: 10.1007/s11936-010-0076-7. Epub 2010 Apr 14.


Critical limb ischemia (CLI), defined as chronic ischemic rest pain, ulcers, or gangrene attributable to objectively proven arterial occlusive disease, is the most advanced form of peripheral arterial disease. Traditionally, open surgical bypass was the only effective treatment strategy for limb revascularization in this patient population. However, during the past decade, the introduction and evolution of endovascular procedures have significantly increased treatment options. In a certain subset of patients for whom either surgical or endovascular revascularization may not be appropriate, primary amputation remains a third treatment option. Definitive high-level evidence on which to base treatment decisions, with an emphasis on clinical and cost effectiveness, is still lacking. Treatment decisions in CLI are individualized, based on life expectancy, functional status, anatomy of the arterial occlusive disease, and surgical risk. For patients with aortoiliac disease, endovascular therapy has become first-line therapy for all but the most severe patterns of occlusion, and aortofemoral bypass surgery is a highly effective and durable treatment for the latter group. For infrainguinal disease, the available data suggest that surgical bypass with vein is the preferred therapy for CLI patients likely to survive 2 years or more, and for those with long segment occlusions or severe infrapopliteal disease who have an acceptable surgical risk. Endovascular therapy may be preferred in patients with reduced life expectancy, those who lack usable vein for bypass or who are at elevated risk for operation, and those with less severe arterial occlusions. Patients with unreconstructable disease, extensive necrosis involving weight-bearing areas, nonambulatory status, or other severe comorbidities may be considered for primary amputation or palliative measures.