Chronic lower extremity ischemia: A human model of ischemic tolerance

Amit Badhwar, Thomas L. Forbes, Marge B. Lovell, Alison A. Dungey, Sarah D. McCarter, Jeffrey R. Scott, Guy DeRose, Kenneth A. Harris, Richard F. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Ischemic preconditioning (IPC) has been found in animals to have a protective effect against future ischemic injury to muscle tissue. Such injury is unavoidable during some surgical procedures. To determine whether chronic ischemia in the lower extremities would imitate IPC and reduce ischemic injury during vascular surgery, we designed a controlled clinical study. Patients and methods: Two groups of patients at a university-affiliated medical centre with chronic lower-extremity ischemia served as models of IPC: 6 patients awaiting femoral distal bypass (FDB) and 4 scheduled for aortobifemoral (ABF) bypass grafting for aortoiliac occlusive disease. Seven patients undergoing elective open repair of an infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) were chosen as non-IPC controls. Three hematologic indicators of skeletal-muscle injury, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine kinase (CK) and myoglobin, were measured before placement of the proximal clamp, during surgical ischemia, immediately upon reperfusion, 15 minutes after and 1 hour after reperfusion, and during the first, second and third postoperative days. Results: Baseline markers of skeletal-muscle injury were similar in all groups. In postreperfusion samples, concentrations of muscle-injury markers were significantly lower in the 2 PC groups than in the control group. For example, at day 2, LDH levels were increased by about 30% over baseline measures in the elective AAA (control) group, whereas levels in the FDB and ABF groups remained statistically unchanged from baseline. Myoglobin in controls had increased by 977%, but only by 160% in the FDB and 528% in the ABF groups. CK levels, in a similar trend, were 1432% higher in the control group and only 111% (FDB) and 1029% (ABF) in the study groups. Taken together, these data represent a significant level of protection. Conclusions: Patients with chronic lower-extremity ischemia suffered less severe ischemic injury after a period of acute ischemia than those with acute ischemia alone. Ischemic preconditioning is one proposed mechanism to help explain this protective effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-358
Number of pages7
JournalCanadian Journal of Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


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