Acute Limb Ischemia (ALI) occurs when there is sudden lack of blood flow to a limb, mainly caused by embolis, or thrombosis or rarely by dissection or trauma.

The most common type of emboli are a blood clot generated by thrombosis which has then broken off and is then transported in the blood stream.

Two areas where embolis can form-

  1. In the heart or the main arteries, they get impact in body tissues, commonly in the brain and the upper and lower limb. It can form due to many reasons like heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm.
  2. Venous emboli arise in veins (DVT) and these impact in the lungs

 Symptoms/Signs– It depends on many factors like location of blockage, completeness of blockage. Most common are sudden severe Pain,  weakness, reduced pulse, coldness, discoloration of skin of legs, gangrene changes (blackening- dead part).

Causes/risk factors– Smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol level, obesity.

Diagnosis– Clinical examination of patient, imaging of blood vessels using color Doppler, CT angiography, MR angiography, DSA.


Thrombolysis-  is a treatment to dissolve dangerous clots in blood vessels, improve blood flow, and prevent damage to tissues and organs.

Thrombectomy/Embolectomy- is  removal of thrombus/emboli (blood clots) which are blocking blood circulation. It is an emergency procedure often as the last resort because permanent occlusion of a significant blood flow to an organ leads to necrosis (dead part). Catheter directed embolectomy can be done using balloon embolectomy and aspiration embolectomy.