Ischemia of the upper extremity due to noncardiac emboli

Joseph C. Banis, Norman Rich, Thomas J. Whelan

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Nine cases of microemboli of arterial origin to the upper extremity are reported. The source of emboli in five of these cases was in the subclavian artery compressed by osseous anomalies in the thoracic outlet. Three aneurysms, one in a subclavian vein graft and two traumatic false aneurysms in the hand, were also noted to be the sources of distal emboli. One unproved case of emboli from an atherosclerotic plaque of the subclavian artery is also reported. Chronicity of symptoms and delay in operation are often noted and lead to difficulties in surgical management. The compressing osseous structures causing the vascular lesion in the thoracic outlet syndrome must be resected, along with removal of the source of emboli. Cervicodorsal sympathectomy is often needed in cases of extensive thrombosis and/or long-standing ischemia. Embolectomy is usually a futile procedure when the main arterial trunk contains old, organized thrombus. Differential diagnostic problems between collagen vascular disease, vasculitis, vasospastic disease, and microembolic disease in cases of unilateral Raynaud's phenomenon are pointed out.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1977


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