Why critical limb ischemia criteria are not applicable to diabetic foot and what the consequences are

Scand J Surg. 2012;101(2):114-8. doi: 10.1177/145749691210100207.


Neuropathy, peripheral arterial occlusive disease and microvascular disturbances are important factors contributing to foot problems in diabetic patients. In the diabetic foot with ischemia, the alterations in skin microvascular function are pronounced including severely reduced capillary circulation and abolished hyperaemic responses. These microvascular disturbances, which are superimposed on the already existing structural diabetic microangiopathy, are compatible with a state of "chronic capillary ischemia" and an increased shunting of blood through arteriovenous channels. This maldistribution of blood in skin microcirculation is not detected by measurement of peripheral blood pressure (systolic ankle blood pressure, systolic toe blood pressure). As indicated in several studies toe blood pressure is a poor predictor of local tissue perfusion, tissue survival and healing of chronic foot ulcers. Consequently, the disturbances in peripheral tissue perfusion of the diabetic foot may be underestimated leading to delayed vascular interventions and/or medical treatment. Thus, measurements of peripheral blood pressure, e.g. toe blood pressure, should be combined with investigations of local tissue perfusion in order to get an adequate estimation of peripheral tissue perfusion in diabetic patients. For this purpose local skin microcirculation can be investigated by transcutaneous oxygen tension of the forefoot. Also, due to these reasons, the threshold for revascularization should be lower in diabetic patients with foot ulcer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Gas Monitoring, Transcutaneous
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Diabetic Foot / blood
  • Diabetic Foot / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Foot / physiopathology*
  • Foot / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / blood
  • Ischemia / diagnosis*
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Microcirculation*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / blood
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Skin / blood supply*