Critical limb ischemia.
Varu, et al. J Vasc Surg. 2010 Jan;51(1):230-41.
Critical limb ischemia (CLI) continues to be a significantly morbid disease process for the aging population. Rigid guidelines for the management of patients with CLI are inappropriate due to the complexities that are involved in optimally treating these patients. A thin line exists in the decision process between medical management vs surgical management by revascularization or amputation, and the perception of "success" in this patient population is evolving. This review explores these issues and examines the challenges the treating physician will face when managing the care of patients with CLI. The epidemiology and natural history of CLI is discussed, along with the pathophysiology of the disease process. A review of the literature in regards to the different treatment modalities is presented to help the physician optimize therapy for patients with CLI. New scoring systems to help predict outcomes in patients with CLI undergoing revascularization or amputation are discussed, and an overview of the current status of patient-oriented outcomes is provided. Finally, we briefly examine emerging therapies for the treatment of CLI and provide an algorithm to help guide the practicing physician on how to approach the critically ischemic limb with regard to the complicated issues surrounding these patients.