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Arterial Occlusion, Emergency Medicine

Richard E. Wolfe Reviewed 06/2017



Immediate and severe compromise of the blood supply to a limb, threatening its viability, secondary to the sudden blockage of a peripheral artery 
  • Arterial embolization

    • Thrombus or pla...


Signs and Symptoms

  • Sudden onset of a cold, painful leg

  • The 6 Ps:

    • Pain

      • Gradual, initially increasing in severity then decreasing with progressive sensory loss

      • Distal progressing proximally

      • Sudden o...



  • Early recognition and rapid transport to an emergency department

  • Place the limb in a dependent position

  • Keeping the limb warm

  • Oxygen by nasal cannula

  • Aspirin

Ed Treatment/Procedures

  • Pr...



Admission Criteria

  • All patients with clinical diagnosis of acute arterial occlusion or (ABI <0.5) should be admitted after an emergency consultation with a vascular surgeon.

Discharge Criteria

Additional Reading

  • Clair  D, Shah  S, Weber  J. Current state of diagnosis and management of critical limb ischemia. Curr Cardiol Rep.  2012;14(2):160–170.

  • Katzen  BT. Clinical diagnosis and progn...



  • 444.9 Embolism and thrombosis of unspecified artery

  • 444.21 Arterial embolism and thrombosis of upper extremity

  • 444.22 Arterial embolism and thrombosis of lower extremity

  • 415.19 Other pulmonary ...

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