A case of distal limb arterial tortuosity and dilation: observations and potential clinical significance

Folia Morphol (Warsz). 2021 Jun 1. doi: 10.5603/FM.a2021.0055. Online ahead of print.


Arterial tortuosity describes variation via bending of the arterial wall and has been noted in several arteries throughout the body. Tortuous blood vessels can cause nerve compression, as well as present difficulties to surgeons and radiologists. Here we present an unusual case of multi-vessel arterial tortuosity discovered in 78-year-old Hispanic male cadaver, independent of systemic pathology. The left ulnar and right tibial arteries were dissected, and using calibrated digital calipers, their external and internal diameters were measured both at the origin site and at the site of greatest dilation. Both wall thickness and the number of inflection points were also measured. Six bends were noticed in the ulnar artery and its diameter measured 8.11 mm at its widest, with a wall thickness of 0.88mm. On the lower extremity, the right tibial artery had three bends and its diameter measured 4.86 mm at its widest, with a wall thickness of 1.32 mm. This uncommon tortuosity is not only more prone to laceration during surgery, but the bending and thickening can be mistaken for tumors. Finally, fluid dynamics can be altered, resulting in an impact on blood pressure in the extremities. Thus, raising awareness is crucial to prevent both symptoms and iatrogenic complications.

Keywords: arterial; cadaveric; tibial; tortuosity; ulnar.