Update and validation of the Society for Vascular Surgery wound, ischemia, and foot infection threatened limb classification system

Joseph L. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of critical limb ischemia, first defined in 1982, was intended to delineate a patient cohort with a threatened limb and at risk for amputation due to severe peripheral arterial disease. The influence of diabetes and its associated neuropathy on the pathogenesis-threatened limb was an excluded comorbidity, despite its known contribution to amputation risk. The Fontaine and Rutherford classifications of limb ischemia severity have also been used to predict amputation risk and the likelihood of tissue healing. The dramatic increase in the prevalence of diabetes mellitus and the expanding techniques of arterial revascularization has prompted modification of peripheral arterial disease classification schemes to improve outcomes analysis for patients with threatened limbs. The diabetic patient with foot ulceration and infection is at risk for limb loss, with abnormal arterial perfusion as only one determinant of outcome. The wound extent and severity of infection also impact the likelihood of limb loss. To better predict amputation risk, the Society for Vascular Surgery Lower Extremity Guidelines Committee developed a classification of the threatened lower extremity that reflects these important clinical considerations. Risk stratification is based on three major factors that impact amputation risk and clinical management: wound, ischemia, and foot infection. This classification scheme is relevant to the patient with critical limb ischemia because many are also diabetic. Implementation of the wound, ischemia, and foot infection classification system in critical limb ischemia patients is recommended and should assist the clinician in more meaningful analysis of outcomes for various forms of wound and arterial revascularizations procedures required in this challenging, patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Vascular Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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