Thromboembolism of the Peripheral Artery

Peripheral Artery Thromboembolism

A peripheral artery thromboembolism (PAT) is the occlusion of a peripheral artery by a conformational change in a blood clot. This leads to inadequate blood supply to the distal tissues, possibly resulting in tissue death and loss of function in the affected area. PATs account for approximately 4% of all emboli and can occur in any age group, though they are more common in middle-aged individuals.

The causes of PATs are diverse, and include high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, smoking, chronic kidney disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, and use of oral contraceptives. PATs may also have a genetic component, such as a mutation of a clotting factor or a deficiency in proteins involved in regulating clotting.

The signs and symptoms of PATs vary depending on the location of the clot and the extent of occlusion. Common symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness, and cool looking skin in the affected area. In more severe cases, the affected area may become discolored, have a decreased pulse, and exhibit signs of infection.

A prompt evaluation is key for identifying peripheral artery thromboembolism. A doctor may order imaging tests, such as ultrasound, computed tomography angiography, or magnetic resonance angiography, to confirm the presence and location of the clot. The treatment for PATs includes anticoagulation to dissolve the clot, as well as revascularization to restore the blood flow. In severe cases, an emergency operation may be required.

Complications of PATs

If not treated promptly, peripheral artery thromboembolism can lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Tissue death
  • Loss of limb function
  • Decreased blood flow to the affected tissues
  • Chronic pain
  • Gangrene
  • Infection

Prevention of PATs

There are several steps that individuals can take to reduce their risk for peripheral artery thromboembolism:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle
  • Avoid smoking
  • Manage other risk factors, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes
  • Avoid prolonged sitting
  • Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of PATs and seek medical attention immediately if they occur.