Acute arterial embolism causing arterial occlusion
A blood clot can break off from the subclavian artery, travel to a distal artery, and occlude that artery. In this event, the clot, called an arterial embolus, partially or completely blocks blood flow to the arm or hand.
Doctors call this process acute arterial insufficiency.
Acute arterial insufficiency can cause partial or complete loss of function of the arm or hand. In severe cases, it can cause gangrene, or tissue death. For these reasons, surgeons treat patients urgently.
In almost all cases, the surgeon will start treatment immediately with anticoagulants, or blood thinners. Instead, some surgeons will perform a procedure called thromboembolectomy. Surgeons perform a thromboembolectomy by inserting a catheter into the affected artery and removing the embolus. When successful, this process restores arterial blood flow to the affected area. As long as there is successful restoration of blood flow, the surgeon can perform definitive treatment non-urgently.
Definitive treatment includes removal of the first rib and repair of the damaged arterial segment or aneurysm with a graft. The surgeon will also remove a cervical rib, if it is present.
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