Arterial occlusive disease

Arterial occlusive disease

With arterial occlusive disease, the obstruction or narrowing of the lumen of the aorta and its major branches causes an interruption of blood flow, usually to the legs and feet. Arterial occlusive disease may affect the carotid, vertebral, innominate, subclavian, mesenteric, or celiac artery. Occlusions, which may be acute or chronic, often cause severe ischemia, skin ulceration, and gangrene.

Arterial occlusive disease is more common in males than in females. The prognosis depends on the location of the occlusion, the development of collateral circulation to counteract reduced blood flow and, if the patient has acute disease, the time elapsed between occlusion and its removal.


Arterial occlusive disease is a common complication of atherosclerosis. The occlusive mechanism may be endogenous, due to embolus formation or thrombosis, or exogenous, due to trauma or fracture. Predisposing factors include smoking; aging; conditions such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes; and a family history of vascular disorders, myocardial infarction, or stroke.

Signs and symptoms

Evidence of this disease varies widely, according to the occlusion site. (See Clinical features of arterial occlusive disease.)