Critical Limb Ischemia otherwise referred to as CLI, is a very serious condition. A serious consequence of peripheral arterial disease, CLI can cause chronic pain and wounds that could eventually require amputation. CLI can be difficult to treat – only half of the people diagnosed are eligible for revascularization at the time of diagnosis. This leaves a wide swath of people with few options. Fortunately, stem cell therapy is a viable option for many people. At the Stem Cell Transplant Institute, we use stem cell therapy to treat CLI and its consequences.
Risk Factors Associated with CLI
CLI and Peripheral Arterial Disease are related to cardiovascular disease. This means that the same things that cause cardiovascular disease also cause CLI. Risk factors include age, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking and a poor diet, can also lead to CLI. Specific diseases associated with CLI include diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Cause of Critical Limb Ischemia
The above risk factors cause damage to the vasculature. The damage causes changes to the lining of the vessels and destabilizes the plaques that are already present in the artery. When the plaques become destabilized, they are more at risk to break off, causing occlusion of the artery. When blood cannot flow through the artery, the distal tissues begin to dysfunction. In some cases, they can even die, causing necrosis and gangrene.
Symptoms of CLI
CLI is characterized by severe, chronic pain in the legs and feet. This can be accompanied by weakness and loss of sensation. People with CLI often have difficulty walking distances that they used to be able to walk, such as around the block. People may notice that their skin on the legs and feet becomes shiny, smooth, and dry. Their toenails can also become thick. Some people may also have diminished pulses in these areas, a sign of arterial damage. Common complications include sores, skin infections, and ulcers. These infections can begin as non-serious but can end up being life and limb-threatening.
Diagnosis of CLI
Based on your risk factors, your doctor may suspect that you are at risk for CLI. First, they will do a physical exam, examining the skin, and feeling and listening to the pulses in your ankles and feet. Most physicians will order a test called an Ankle-Brachial index. This compares the blood pressure in the legs to the blood pressure in the arms. An abnormal ratio points to peripheral arterial disease. They may also order forms of imaging, although these are not always necessary in most patients. These imaging modalities include a Doppler Ultrasound, CT angiography, Magnetic Resonance Angiography, and Angiogram. Often, a physician will only order these tests if the patient’s presentation is unique or if they are planning for surgery.
Treatment of CLI
Standard treatment for CLI includes treating the underlying causes in addition to the acute issue. Minimally invasive endovascular therapy is a procedure in which a physician enters an artery above the blockage, typically in the knee or groin, snakes the catheter down to the blocked portion of the artery, and opens the blockage. While there are complications associated with these procedures, it is the least invasive. In other cases, more invasive surgery may be needed. A surgeon may bypass the diseased segment of the vessel and use a vein from the patient to graft new vessels. Recovery can take several weeks.
Stem Cell Transplant Institute Stem Cell Therapy
At the Stem Cell Transplant Institute, we offer stem cell therapy for CLI. We use umbilical cord-derived stem cells to promote profusion and restore some of the integrity of the vessels. Multiple research studies have found that using stem cell therapy in CLI is safe and beneficial. These studies have examined multiple types of stem cells given in multiple ways, like intramuscular injections and intra-arterial injections. They found that stem cell therapy was associated with a major reduction in amputation rate, with 41% fewer patients needing amputation than the control group. They also found that stem cell therapy significantly increased the probability of ulcer healing. It also improved symptoms, like pain and difficulty walking.
Stem Cell Treatment is a fantastic option for CLI, especially for those people who are not candidates for revascularization at diagnosis. Stem cell therapy has been shown to be safe and effective for many patients. At the Stem Cell Transplant Institute, we believe in providing care based on the latest scientific findings and techniques. Call us today to learn more about your options for CLI and stem cell therapy.