Upper extremity arterial disease: Etiologic considerations and differential diagnosis

J. M. Edwards, J. M. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Upper extremity ischemia is an unusual clinical entity. Using a careful history and physical examination, detailed vascular laboratory testing, serological tests, and occasionally arteriography, it is possible to determine the cause in most patients. Most patients presenting with upper extremity ischemia have small vessel disease that is not amenable to surgical treatment. The primary treatment of upper extremity ischemia remains cold avoidance, with pharmacological treatment added in a limited number of patients. A patient's long-term prognosis can be determined based on initial serological studies and the presence or absence of arterial obstruction. Patients with no serological or arterial abnormalities usually continue to have upper extremity ischemic symptoms, but these remain only a nuisance. Patients with either serological abnormalities or arterial obstruction have a mild to moderate risk of progressive symptoms. Those patients with combined serological abnormalities and arterial obstruction at presentation are most likely to have continued difficulties. A significant number of these patients, approximately 50%, are most symptomatic at the time of initial presentation and improve under follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Vascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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