Last updated date: 29-May-2023
Originally Written in English
Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease: Symptoms & Treatment
Aortoiliac occlusive disease (AIOD) is a medical condition characterized by the narrowing or blockage of the aorta and/or the iliac arteries, which are the main blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the legs and lower body. AIOD is typically caused by the buildup of plaque or atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries become hardened and narrowed due to the accumulation of fatty deposits, cholesterol, and other substances in the blood.
The reduced blood flow to the legs and lower body caused by AIOD can result in symptoms such as leg pain, numbness, weakness, and cramping, especially during physical activity. In severe cases, AIOD can lead to tissue damage, non-healing wounds or ulcers, and in extreme cases, gangrene and limb amputation.
AIOD can be diagnosed through physical examination, medical history review, and imaging tests such as duplex ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), computed tomography angiography (CTA), and angiography.
Treatment options for AIOD include lifestyle modifications such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly, as well as medications to manage symptoms and prevent blood clots. In some cases, surgical procedures such as angioplasty, stenting, or bypass surgery may be necessary to improve blood flow and prevent further damage.
With early diagnosis and proper treatment, most people with AIOD can manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. However, AIOD is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management and monitoring by a healthcare professional to prevent complications and ensure optimal health outcomes.
How Common is the Condition?
Aortoiliac occlusive disease is a relatively rare condition, with an estimated prevalence of 0.05 to 0.1% in the general population. It is more common in older adults and individuals with risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Who does Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease Affect?
Aortoiliac occlusive disease typically affects individuals over the age of 50 with a history of smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. It is also more common in men than women.
Is Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease Life-Threatening?
Aortoiliac occlusive disease can be a serious condition that affects blood flow to the lower limbs and can cause pain and other symptoms. In some cases, if left untreated, it can lead to tissue damage or even gangrene, which can be limb-threatening. However, with appropriate treatment, many people with aortoiliac occlusive disease can improve their symptoms and avoid serious complications. It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you experience symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease.
How does Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease Affect My Body?
Aortoiliac occlusive disease can affect blood flow to the lower extremities, leading to pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in the legs or buttocks. This happens because the blockages in the aorta and iliac arteries prevent oxygenated blood from reaching the lower limbs, causing tissue damage and increasing the risk of infection or tissue death. In severe cases, aortoiliac occlusive disease can lead to gangrene, loss of limb function, or even life-threatening complications such as aneurysm or stroke. Additionally, the reduced blood flow can also affect the function of the kidneys, leading to high blood pressure or kidney damage. Therefore, it is essential to seek prompt medical attention if you experience any symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease.
Symptoms of Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease
The symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease can vary depending on the severity of the blockage and the extent of collateral blood flow. Some common symptoms may include:
- Pain or discomfort in the buttocks, thighs, or calves during exercise, which is relieved by rest (intermittent claudication)
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness or weakness in the feet or legs
- Impotence in men
- Pain in the hips or buttocks while walking or climbing stairs
- Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that do not heal properly
- Pale or bluish skin on the legs or feet
- Loss of hair on the legs or feet
- Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet
In severe cases, aortoiliac occlusive disease can cause gangrene, tissue death, and limb loss. In rare cases, it can also cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss.
Causes of Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease
The causes of aortoiliac occlusive disease include atherosclerosis, fibromuscular dysplasia, Takayasu arteritis, and thromboembolic disease. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of aortoiliac occlusive disease, accounting for approximately 80-90% of cases. Fibromuscular dysplasia is a less common cause and affects mostly young women. Takayasu arteritis is a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the aorta and its branches. Thromboembolic disease occurs when a blood clot forms in a blood vessel and blocks blood flow. Other less common causes of aortoiliac occlusive disease include radiation injury, trauma, and certain connective tissue disorders.
What are Fibromuscular Dysplasia, Takayasu Arteritis?
Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a rare, non-inflammatory vascular disease that affects the walls of medium-sized arteries, causing them to narrow, bulge, or tear. This can lead to a variety of complications, including high blood pressure, aneurysms, and arterial dissections. FMD is most commonly found in the renal (kidney) arteries but can also occur in other arteries throughout the body.
Takayasu arteritis is a rare, chronic, inflammatory disease that primarily affects the aorta and its branches, as well as the pulmonary arteries. The inflammation can cause the arteries to narrow, leading to reduced blood flow to various organs and tissues. This can result in a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, muscle and joint pain, and chest pain. Takayasu arteritis primarily affects young women, and if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications, including heart failure, stroke, and aneurysm formation.
How is Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease Diagnosed?
Aortoiliac occlusive disease can be diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests.
During the physical exam, the healthcare provider will look for signs of poor circulation, such as weak or absent pulses, cool skin, and decreased hair growth on the legs.
Diagnostic tests that may be used to diagnose aortoiliac occlusive disease include:
- Doppler ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to evaluate blood flow in the affected area.
- Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): This imaging test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the blood vessels.
- Computed tomography angiography (CTA): This imaging test uses X-rays to create detailed images of the blood vessels.
- Angiography: This test involves injecting a contrast dye into the blood vessels and taking X-rays to visualize the blood flow.
- Blood tests: Blood tests may be done to check for conditions that can cause aortoiliac occlusive disease, such as high cholesterol or diabetes.
- Ankle-brachial index (ABI): This test measures the blood pressure in your ankle and arm to assess the blood flow in your legs.
Your healthcare provider will decide which tests are necessary based on your individual circumstances.
The treatment of aortoiliac occlusive disease depends on the severity and extent of the blockage, as well as the presence of other medical conditions. Treatment options may include:
- Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can help slow the progression of the disease.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as blood thinners or medications to control high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease.
- Angioplasty and stenting: This is a minimally invasive procedure in which a small balloon is inserted into the blocked artery and inflated to open up the artery. A small metal mesh tube called a stent may also be placed in the artery to help keep it open.
- Bypass surgery: This involves creating a new pathway for blood flow by using a blood vessel from another part of the body or a synthetic graft to bypass the blocked artery.
- Endarterectomy: This is a surgical procedure to remove the plaque buildup in the artery and restore blood flow.
- Thrombolytic therapy: This involves the administration of medications that dissolve blood clots and improve blood flow.
The choice of treatment will depend on the individual case and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
How Can I Prevent Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease?
There is no guaranteed way to prevent aortoiliac occlusive disease, but certain lifestyle changes and risk factor modifications may reduce the risk of developing the condition or prevent its progression. Here are some preventive measures:
- Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the significant risk factors for developing atherosclerosis, which can lead to aortoiliac occlusive disease. Quitting smoking may help lower the risk.
- Control high blood pressure and cholesterol: High blood pressure and cholesterol contribute to atherosclerosis, which narrows and hardens the arteries. Controlling these risk factors can help prevent the progression of the disease.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis. Maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce the risk.
- Manage diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis. Proper management of diabetes, including maintaining good blood sugar control, is essential.
- Eat a healthy diet: A diet low in saturated and trans fats and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables may help lower the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
- Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider may help detect and manage risk factors before they lead to the development of aortoiliac occlusive disease.
It is crucial to discuss any concerns or questions regarding preventive measures with a healthcare provider.
Aortoiliac occlusive disease can lead to various complications, including:
- Pain and disability: Aortoiliac occlusive disease can cause severe pain and limit your mobility, leading to disability.
- Limb ischemia: Reduced blood flow to the legs and feet can cause tissue damage, resulting in limb ischemia.
- Erectile dysfunction: Aortoiliac occlusive disease can also affect blood flow to the pelvic region, leading to erectile dysfunction.
- Stroke: In rare cases, a blockage in the aorta can break loose and travel to the brain, leading to a stroke.
- Gangrene: Severe and prolonged ischemia can cause tissue death, resulting in gangrene, which may require amputation.
- Aneurysm: Aortoiliac occlusive disease can lead to the formation of aneurysms in the affected arteries, increasing the risk of rupture.
- Renal failure: Reduced blood flow to the kidneys can cause kidney damage and, in severe cases, renal failure.
It's essential to seek prompt medical attention if you experience any symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease to prevent complications.
Can Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease Alwayes Lead to Leg Amputation?
In severe cases of aortoiliac occlusive disease, where the blood flow to the legs is significantly reduced, it can lead to tissue damage and eventually limb amputation if left untreated or not managed properly. However, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, the risk of amputation can be reduced. It's essential to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease to prevent complications such as amputation.
What Can I Expect If I have Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease?
If you have aortoiliac occlusive disease, you can expect to experience symptoms such as leg pain, numbness, weakness, and fatigue. These symptoms may worsen with physical activity and improve with rest. If left untreated, aortoiliac occlusive disease can lead to serious complications such as chronic limb ischemia, acute limb ischemia, and even limb loss.
Treatment for aortoiliac occlusive disease typically involves lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, managing diabetes and high blood pressure, and exercising regularly. Medications such as antiplatelet drugs and cholesterol-lowering medications may also be prescribed. In more severe cases, surgery or endovascular procedures may be necessary to restore blood flow to the affected area.
It is important to work closely with your healthcare team to manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. With proper treatment and management, many people with aortoiliac occlusive disease are able to maintain a good quality of life.
How Do I Take Care of Myself?
If you have aortoiliac occlusive disease, it is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare provider. This may include taking medications as prescribed, making lifestyle changes, and attending regular follow-up appointments.
In terms of lifestyle changes, your healthcare provider may recommend that you:
- Quit smoking: Smoking can increase your risk of developing aortoiliac occlusive disease and can make symptoms worse. Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to manage the condition.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve blood flow and reduce symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend a specific exercise plan tailored to your needs.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can help manage underlying conditions that may contribute to aortoiliac occlusive disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Manage underlying conditions: If you have underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions effectively.
- Watch for signs of complications: It is important to monitor for signs of complications such as blood clots, infections, or tissue death. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any new or worsening symptoms.
It is also important to attend regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor the progression of the disease and adjust your treatment plan as needed.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider?
You should see your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease, such as leg pain or fatigue, especially during physical activity. You should also see your healthcare provider if you have a history of risk factors for the disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure. Additionally, if you have already been diagnosed with aortoiliac occlusive disease and are receiving treatment, it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider regularly to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan if necessary. If you experience sudden severe leg pain or develop signs of infection or tissue damage in the affected leg, you should seek medical attention immediately.
In conclusion, aortoiliac occlusive disease is a condition that affects the blood flow to the lower extremities and can cause pain, numbness, and other symptoms. It is commonly caused by atherosclerosis or inflammation of the arteries, and it can be diagnosed using a variety of tests, including ultrasound, angiography, and MRI. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease, as prompt treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes.