Japanese doctors have made an important new discovery in treating CLI, which impacts human blood vessels.

Peripheral artery disease is what happens when blood vessels in your limbs narrow, cutting off vital circulation. If left untreated, PAD can eventually turn into critical limb ischemia, or when arteries are blocked fully, leading to sores and ulcers.

According to the University of California Davis Vascular Center, CLI can be quite difficult to treat, as it’s hard to determine if and when limbs have regained standard blood flow.

Now, thanks to a group of researchers out of Japan, physicians may have some much-needed help when it comes to combating CLI.

A most helpful sign

As part of a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions, the Japanese researchers found that wound blush may be a reliable sign for proper healing in CLI cases. For those unaware, wound blush is coloration around the wound site, usually in varying shades of red.

The team’s work with wound blush began back in 2012 with a study published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery. At the time, the collective concluded that wound blushing was indicative of a higher degree of skin perfusion pressure, and that meant a limb was more likely to be saved.

For this most recent study, the research team looked at the limbs of 185 patients, the majority of whom were men with an average age of 73 years. Each participant had severe ischemic ulcerations. After examining the ulcers, they found that 76 percent, or 142 people, had a positive form of wound blush, which indicated proper wound healing.

Meanwhile, 43 patients (23 percent overall) had negative wound blush and were thus more likely to require amputation or experience any number of medical complications. Among those patients with positive wound blush, the overall rate of healing was nearly 74 percent, compared with just 46.5 percent for patients with negative wound blush.

These findings are so important that the Japanese researchers went so far as to call wound blush the “most important angiographic endpoint for wound healing.” And Dr Andrew J.P. Klein tends to agree. As a leading researcher at the Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta, Klein was tasked with writing an editorial to accompany the study. In it he explained:

“This paper provides us a potential beacon to look for in the stormy seas of CLI therapy. An objective scoring and assessment of wound blush during [endovascular therapy] should provide a strong signal that there is a more than reasonable chance that the wound will heal. Though this needs to be confirmed in large studies, this represents one viable option for determining whether there has been sufficient vascularization.”

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