Man in a wheelchair looking off to side

Critical Limb Ischemia and Buerger’s Disease Symptoms & Treatment

The human body has a complex highway system of arteries that deliver oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.  When these pathways get clogged up, it can result in a serious problem called ischemia. 

Ischemia is a serious condition in which there is inadequate blood flow to a specific part of the body. Blood carries oxygen, which our tissues and organs require in order to stay healthy. Ischemia can occur anywhere in the body that blood flows including, the limbs, heart, brain, or intestines. It is generally caused by a narrowing or blockage of an artery. Ischemia is a severe condition that can cause tissue damage and loss of limbs. This condition will not improve on its own and requires appropriate medical attention.

What is Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) and Buerger’s Disease?

Also known as Chronic Limb-Threatening Ischemia (CLTI)

Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is an advanced form of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and is caused by a severe blockage in the arteries of the lower extremities. PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries over time due to the buildup of fatty deposits called plaque. 

CLI is a chronic condition that results in severe pain in the feet or toes, even while resting. Complications can include sores and wounds on the legs and feet that won’t heal due to the lack of circulating blood (carrying oxygen) which is essential to our body’s healing process. Left untreated, the complications of CLI will result in amputation of the affected limb.

Buerger’s disease is a rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs. In Buerger’s disease — also called thromboangiitis obliterans — your blood vessels become inflamed, swell and can become blocked with blood clots. This eventually damages or destroys skin tissues and may lead to infection and gangrene (the death or decay of body tissues). (1) In some cases, amputation may be required. (2)

information icon

What are the Symptoms of CLI and Buerger’s Disease?

  • Severe pain or numbness in the legs and feet while not moving
  • A noticeable decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot compared to the rest of your body
  • Toe or foot sores, infections, or ulcers that will not heal, or heal very slowly
  • Gangrene
  • Shiny, smooth, dry skin in the legs or feet
  • Thickening of the toenails
  • Absent or diminished pulse in the legs or feet

What are the available treatment options of CLI and Buerger’s Disease?

Critical limb ischemia and Buerger’s disease is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment to re-establish blood-flow to the affected area. The number one priority is to preserve the limb. This may be accomplished several ways:

pills icon

Medications:

Several medications may be prescribed to prevent further progression of the disease and to reduce the effect of contributing factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, and most certainly to reduce the pain. Medications that prevent clotting or fight infections may also be prescribed.

heart icon

Endovascular Treatments:

These treatments are the least invasive interventional treatments and involve inserting a catheter into the artery in the groin to allow access to the diseased portion of the artery. The treatment recommended depends on the location and severity of the blockages. Most patients with CLI have multiple arterial blockages, including blockages of the arteries below the knee. Some of the endovascular procedures used to treat CLI include angioplasty, stents, laser atherectomy, etc.

stethoscope icon

Arterial Surgery:

Treatment of wounds or ulcers may require additional surgical procedures or other follow-up care. If the arterial blockages are not favorable for endovascular therapy, surgical treatment is often recommended. This typically involves bypassing the diseased segment with either a vein from the patient or a synthetic graft. The last recourse would be amputation of a toe, part of the foot, or leg. Amputation occurs in about 25% of all CLI patients. (3)

Older woman touching her painful leg

The Potential of HONEDRA for the Treatment of CLI and Buerger’s Disease

The goal of HONEDRA® (an experimental regenerative medicine) is to prevent the serious adverse consequences of CLI and Buerger’s disease by improving blood flow in the affected limb. The Company’s open-label, registration-eligible study of HONEDRA® in Japan for the treatment of CLI and Buerger’s disease is actively enrolling patients and has shown promising results to date.

HONEDRA®

Health-related information on this page including text, graphics, images, and other material is for educational purposes only and therefore not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Close up of Optical Microscope Laboratory Equipment
Publications

Related Research and Publications

Learn More