London-based researchers have developed an imaging technique in patients with critical limb ischemia that they suggest may reduce the need for amputation.

The technique is a new way of mapping blood delivered to the leg muscle immediately after surgery to treat patients with critical limb ischemia (CLI), in which blood flow to one’s feet and legs is severely reduced.

The researchers, from St Thomas’ Hospital, London, hope that the technique they developed may ultimately reduce the need for amputation, which may be needed if blood flow cannot be restored, explains a media release from British Heart Foundation.

During the surgery to treat CLI, the blocked part of the artery is either bypassed or widened using a small piece of expandable mesh called a stent.

Magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography scans are used to image the main arteries in the affected limb so that a surgeon can understand which area of the artery needs to be operated upon. However, these scans are not perfect—they cannot give the surgeon information about the smallest blood vessels in the legs, or be used to tell how much blood is actually being sent to the limb’s muscle, the release explains.

In their study, researchers used the new MRI-based mapping technique to determine how much blood was reaching the muscles in the legs of 34 people with CLI, before and after treatment and in 22 healthy people. They then obtained a small amount of leg muscle using a biopsy, in order to check that the results provided by the new technique were correct, the release continues.

“Here at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust we treat over 500 people with critical limb ischaemia each year. By using this new imaging technique, we hope to be better placed to offer the best possible treatment to people suffering from this disease and therefore reduce the likelihood of limb amputation,” says Bijan Modarari, PhD, FRCS, BHF Intermediate Fellow and Reader/Consultant in Vascular Surgery at King’s College London/St Thomas’ Hospital, and lead author of the study, in the release.

The study was published recently in Journal of Vascular Surgery.

[Source(s): British Heart Foundation, Science Daily]