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Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI)


Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is a serious form of peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. In the most advanced cases of PAD, the blockages in your leg vessels may become so severe that almost no blood can make it to your feet, and the tissue becomes starved of oxygen. This condition is known as critical limb ischemia (CLI).

You may feel severe foot pain, even at rest, and ulcers may form on your legs and feet. In severe cases, tissue can die, causing gangrene. If you have advanced diabetes or kidney disease, you are at particularly high risk of developing CLI.

What happens if critical limb ischemia goes untreated?

If CLI is not treated promptly, the symptoms can progress quickly to the point where you may need to have your leg amputated just above or below the knee.

How is critical limb ischemia treated and what is the goal of treatment?

The goal of treatment is to relieve your pain and allow ulcerations and wounds to heal. In the case of gangrene, the goal is to remove the dead tissue with subsequent healing of the underlying tissue. Treatment requires aggressive revascularization of blocked arteries as with peripheral artery disease. However, because blockages are so advanced in CLI, more advanced techniques are often required.

Is revascularization alone enough to treat critical limb ischemia?

CLI is a serious, complex disease that requires a multidisciplinary approach. At South Florida Vascular Associates we work closely with your primary care physician, wound care physician, and other specialty physicians to provide the comprehensive care needed to treat CLI effectively and prevent major amputation.

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