Critical Limb Ischemia 

Severe pain in the legs and feet when you’re not moving. Sores that won’t heal. These are the two classic symptoms of critical limb ischemia, a disabling disease that can lead to amputation. 

If you have symptoms of critical limb ischemia, our team of experienced doctors and dedicated staff will diagnose and treat your condition with one goal in mind, to help improve the quality of your life.

What Is Critical Limb Ischemia?

Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is a severe form of peripheral artery disease (PAD). This cardiovascular disease occurs when the peripheral arteries are clogged or narrowed, caused by the buildup of fatty plaque (atherosclerosis) on the walls of the arteries that carry blood away from the heart to the arms and legs. Severe PAD can cause tissue to die, leading to amputation of the foot or leg.

Critical limb ischemia can develop when blood that flows to the legs becomes severely restricted. CLI is a severe complication characterized by limb pain while resting and nonhealing ulcers or gangrene, which can lead to significant amputation, cardiovascular events or even death.

Critical Limb Ischemia Symptoms

The manifestations of CLI may vary from no symptoms to cramping pain (called intermittent claudication). Other symptoms may include:

  • Severe burning pain in your legs and feet that continues even when you're resting
  • Pale, shiny, smooth and dry skin
  • Wounds and ulcers (open sores) on your feet and legs that do not heal
  • Loss of muscle mass in your legs
  • The skin on your toes or lower limbs becoming cold and numb, turning red and then black, and/or beginning to swell and produce smelly pus, causing severe pain

Could your leg pain be arthritis or PAD? Learn some telltale signs of peripheral vascular disease to help you determine if you’re at risk of developing this cardiovascular disease.

How Is Critical Limb Ischemia Treated?

The first line of critical limb ischemia treatment is revascularization through angioplasty or bypass graft. In some cases, patients with CLI and multiple comorbidities or low chances of successful revascularization may require a primary amputation below the knee. 

An angioplasty (also known as percutaneous coronary interventions, balloon angioplasty and coronary artery balloon dilation) uses a special tubing with an attached deflated balloon to stretch open narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.

Surgeons often combine this procedure with the permanent implantation of a short wire-mesh tube, called a stent, to allow blood to move freely and decrease the chance of another blockage. The procedure may last 30 minutes to several hours and require an overnight hospital stay.

Your doctor may recommend angioplasty to:

  • Significantly increase blood flow through the blocked artery
  • Decrease chest pain (angina)
  • Increase the ability for physical activity limited by angina or ischemia
  • Open neck and brain arteries to help prevent stroke.

Learn more about angioplasty here.

Bypass surgery (also known as coronary artery bypass graft or CABG) is another procedure to treat blocked heart arteries. A surgeon takes arteries or veins from other parts of your body (called grafts), such as the chest, leg or arm to reroute the blood around the clogged artery. A patient may need several grafts depending on the severity of the coronary heart disease and how many coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed.

CABG is one of the most common and effective procedures to manage the blockage of blood to the heart muscle. Benefits include:

  • Improves the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart
  • Relieves chest pain (angina)
  • Reduces risk of heart attack
  • Enhances ability for physical activity limited by angina or ischemia

Patients undergoing CABG require general anesthesia and several days in the hospital. The procedure usually takes between three and six hours.

Why Choose Lakewood Regional Medical Center for Your Vascular Health?

At Lakewood Regional Medical Center’s Heart & Vascular Center, you can count on timely and personalized care from our experienced and dedicated cardiovascular team. Our vast network of physicians diagnoses and treats CLI using noninvasive and surgical procedures.

Our cardiovascular team can perform blood pressure readings, doppler ultrasounds, specialized X-rays and complex computer analyses of your blood vessels to help make an accurate diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan just for you.

Lakewood Regional Medical Center’s critical limb ischemia treatment options include widening or unblocking the arteries using balloon catheters, stents, laser devices or surgery. Even if you have already been treated for CLI, we may be able to offer you additional help with our innovative procedures.

No matter where you are on your journey to better heart and vascular health, our team will work with you to evaluate all your treatment options. We are committed to preventing unnecessary amputations and maximizing your health potential.

Insurances Accepted and Payment Plan Options

We understand that putting your heart and vascular care requires important healthcare decisions.

At Lakewood Regional Medical Center, you can count on us to provide you with all the information you need upfront, including financial obligations. Our dedicated staff is ready to address your insurance and billing questions, including helping you make financial arrangements to get the quality care you deserve, especially when you need it most.

To learn more about our extended payment plans, call 833-850-5053 or watch this video to learn how we make healthcare more affordable.

We accept various insurance plans and offer flexible payment plans for most treatments and procedures. To know more about your insurance coverage, click on our list of partner insurance providers page here for more information about insurance plans or benefits in our facilities. Please contact your insurance carrier directly if you have specific questions about your covered services and benefits.

Find a Cardiologist in Lakewood

There's a lot you can do to protect your heart. If you're at risk for developing cardiovascular disease or have been diagnosed with a heart or vascular condition, our experienced cardiologists and compassionate staff are here to help you understand your condition or explore treatment options. 

Take charge of your cardiovascular health today at Lakewood Regional Medical Center. Call 855-580-3668 or find a cardiologist here

If you or someone you know has signs of heart attack or stroke, please call 911 immediately or go to the nearest emergency room. Please don't delay care.

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