Acute Arterial Occlusion

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.


Acute arterial occlusion is synonymous with acute limb ischemia and is considered a vascular emergency. Acute limb ischemia is defined as a sudden loss of limb perfusion for up to two weeks after the initiating event. Acute arterial occlusion can occur in any peripheral artery of the upper and lower extremities. Acute occlusion can lead to a limb or life-threatening ischemia. Diagnostic measures, treatment, and management depend on the affected artery and the patient's medical history. Acute arterial occlusion is time-sensitive and, left untreated, can quickly progress to infarction and loss of limb and life. Acute arterial occlusion is associated with increased morbidity, significant disability, and emergent operation in high-risk patients.

A patient with acute arterial occlusion will generally present with pain in the involved muscle group which aggravates on exertion. This phenomenon is also termed intermittent claudication when a patient feels pain in the involved limb on walking. The most typical area of arterial occlusion is the distal superficial femoral artery, resulting in claudication in the calf muscle area.

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