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Peripheral artery occlusive disease
In medicine (vascular surgery), Peripheral artery occlusive disease (PAOD) is a collator for all disease caused by the obstruction of large peripheral arteries, which can result from atherosclerosis, inflammatory processes leading to stenosis, an embolism or thrombus formation. It causes either acute or chronic ischemia.
Peripheral artery occlusive disease is commonly divided in the four Fontaine stages:
- I: mild pain on walking ("intermittent claudication")
- II: severe pain on walking a short distance
- III: pain while resting
- IV: tissue loss (gangrene)
All causes of atherosclerosis are also causes of PAOD. There is, however, a strong preponderance of diabetic people who smoke. A known diabetic who smokes runs an approximately 30% risk of amputation within 5 years.
Upon suspicion of PAOD, the first-line test is arteria brachialis and pedis index (ABPI). This compares the blood pressure in the arms with that in the legs. If the flow in the legs is substantially less (<90% of the arm flow) then an exercise test (with or without doppler ultrasound testing) might confirm that the flow is decreased even further during exercise.
The next step is generally a form of angiography, where a catheter is used to inject radiodense contrast agent into the aorta. Stenosis of the arteries can be identified, and generally correlates with the patient's symptoms.
Dependent on the severity of the disease, the following steps can be taken:
- Conservative measures include medication with aspirin and statins, which reduce clot formation and cholesterol levels, respectively.
- Angioplasty (PTA or percutaneous transluminal angioplasty) can be done on solitary lesions in large arteries, such as the femoral artery.
- Occasionally, bypass grafting is needed to circumvent a seriously stenosed area of the arterial vasculature. Generally, the saphenous vein is used, although artificial (Gore-Tex) material is often used for large tracts when the veins are of lesser quality.
- Rarely, sympathectomy is used - removing the nerves that make arteries contract, effectively leading to vasodilatation.
- When gangrene of toes has set in, amputation is often a last resort to stop infected dying tissues from causing septicemia.
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