Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Ischemic Foot

Description
The term "ischemic foot" refers to a lack of adequate arterial blood flow from the heart to the foot. There are a wide variety of possible causes for poor arterial circulation into the foot including arterial blockage from cholesterol deposits, arterial blood clots, arterial spasm, or arterial injury. The ischemic foot is also referred to as having arterial insufficiency, meaning there is not enough blood reaching the foot to provide the oxygen and nutrient needs required for the cells to continue to function.
Diagnosis
The result of insufficient blood supply to the foot can manifest itself in a variety of ways depending upon how severe the impairment to circulation. Early symptoms may include cold feet, purple or red discoloration of the toes, or muscle cramping after walking short distances (intermittent claudication). Later findings may include a sore that won't heal (ischemic ulcer), pain at night while resting in bed, or tissue death to part of the foot (gangrene).
The diagnosis of ischemia is made by reviewing the patient's symptoms, examination of the foot, and special testing to evaluate the circulation. The examination should reveal cold skin temperature, and skin atrophy that causes the skin to appear shiny or paper thin with loss of normal hair on tops of the toes and on the lower leg. There is often a color change associated with ischemic feet. This may show as a purple discoloration of the toes, white blanching of the toes when the foot is elevated, and red discoloration when the foot is hanging down. Additionally the two arterial pulses in the foot will not be as strong as normal, or may be entirely absent. Certainly the presence of a pale looking ulcer, or black gangrenous toes would be an ominous sign of poor circulation.

Learn more about The Ischemic Foot here

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