Acute arterial occlusion

Embolic occlusion

This is due to sudden blockage of the artery stopping the blood supply to the part it supplies. It could arise in multiple situations but two are commonly noted:

  • Sudden blockage due to a blood clot from the heart.
  • Sudden blockage to the flow of blood following an injury to the artery in a road traffic accident, a stab injury or gunshot injury.

When complete blockage takes place then you have only 6 golden hours to save the limb. If revascularization is not done soon then amputation of the involved limb will result.

How will you know there is a blocked artery needing urgent attention?

Remember the 6 ’Ps’ – Pain, Pale, Paresthesia, Paralysis, Pulseless and Perishing with cold.

Pain is so severe that no pain killers are helpful:

  • Pale – the limb is white because there is no blood flow.
  • Paresthesia – the limb is numb because the nerves are starved due to lack of blood supply.
  • Paralysis – there is reduced to no movement because the muscles of the limb have no nutrition which comes through blood.
  • Pulseless – The doctor feels no pulses as there is no blood flow.
  • Perishing with cold – the limb is ice cold because of the lack of blood supply.
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