Improve Blood Flow to Ischemic Limb through External Pneumatic Compression Therapy

June 6, 2019 | 2:05 pm

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition where the arteries, especially those supplying blood to the legs, are narrowed. This narrowing is usually due to atherosclerosis or the buildup of fatty, cholesterol plaques in the arterial walls. This results in diminished oxygen supply to the limbs manifested by pain on walking. Intermittent claudication is the classic symptom of PAD and involves leg pains on walking which are relieved by resting. In severe cases, the legs and feet may develop non-healing ulcers on the toes and heels or may present with cyanosis or purplish discoloration of the feet. The latter condition, known as critical limb ischemia, indicates a significant loss of blood and oxygen supply to the limb and may even result in amputation. While medications and surgery are established means to treat PAD, some cases may be technically inoperable. In these cases, improving blood flow to the ischemic limb may prevent impending amputation.

The external pneumatic compression device is an innovative machine that was developed to increase blood flow to the arteries of the lower extremities. By applying regular, rapid and high-pressure pneumatic compressions to the foot, ankle and calf, blood flow to the arteries of the legs are improved. It is used for patients with PAD including those who cannot or would not want to undergo surgery. It promotes healing of diabetic and non-diabetic foot and leg ulcers. Studies have also demonstrated increases in walking distance in patients who complain of leg pains on minimal walking or even at rest.

The device acquired by DLSUMC is the first and only external pneumatic compression device optimized for increasing blood flow to the arteries. There are no known adverse reactions. No special preparations are necessary. The patient simply sits comfortably in a chair while compression cuffs are applied to the foot, ankle and calf. This device delivers intermittent 120 mm Hg pressure compressions, which are designed to increase collateral circulation in the affected limb. The therapy lasts for at least an hour, depending on the patient’s case and the assessment of the clinician. An initial consultation determines patient suitability for the external pneumatic compression device.

External pneumatic compression therapy (EPCT) is available at the Romeo P. Ariniego Cardiovascular Laboratory of De La Salle University Medical Center, City of Dasmariñas, Cavite. For inquiries or appointments, you may call (046) 481-8000 or (02) 988-3100, local 1082.

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