Indexed on: 21 Sep '01Published on: 21 Sep '01Published in: European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Peroperative mortality, graft failure and balloon angioplasty limitations mitigate against active intervention for claudication. With the exception of exercise programmes, conservative treatments yield limited results. Intermittent pneumatic compression of the foot (IPC(foot)) used daily for over 3 months enhances significantly the walking ability and pressure indices of stable claudicants; this is attributable to the significant calf inflow enhancement with IPC(foot); however, the physiologic mechanisms involved are only partially understood. Aims by comparing the effects of IPC(foot)and postural alteration on calf inflow haemodynamics, this study examines the role of peripheral sympathetic autoregulation, which controls homeostasis in lower limb vessels when posture changes, in the enhancement of calf inflow with IPC(foot)in healthy subjects and claudicants.forty-one limbs of healthy subjects (n =34; Group I) and 48 limbs of stable claudicants (Fontaine II) (n =42; Group II) were studied. The volume flow (Q), pulsatility index (PI), mean (mV), peak systolic (PSV) and end diastolic (EDV) velocities were measured in the popliteal artery using duplex ultrasound in: the horizontal position, and on sitting with or without IPC(foot).in Group II: median Q, mV, PSV and EDV increased by 61%, 53%, 29% and 51% respectively, and PI decreased by 20% as posture changed from sitting to horizontal; with IPC(foot)median Q, mV, PSV and EDV increased by 70%, 58%, 22% and 75% respectively, and PI decreased by 26% (all p < 0.001). In Group I: median Q, mV, PSV and EDV increased by 125%, 115%, 51% and 38% respectively and PI decreased by 30% as posture changed from sitting to horizontal; with IPC(foot)median Q, mV, PSV and EDV increased by 119%, 153%, 23% and 46%, respectively, and PI decreased by 50% (all p < 0.001). The effects of IPC(foot)and postural alteration (from sitting to horizontal) did not differ haemodynamically (p > 0.1) in both groups. Q on lying was similar in Groups I and II. On sitting Q was higher in Group II [p =0.027 (95% CI 1.7, 27 ml/min)].the striking similarity in the haemodynamic effects of IPC(foot)and postural alteration in the popliteal artery strongly suggests that the leg inflow enhancement with IPC(foot)is mediated by a transient suspension of peripheral sympathetic autoregulation. In addition to their role as clinical markers of PVD severity, the autoregulatory reflexes of peripheral circulation appear to have functions with significant clinical implications in the management of patients with leg inflow impairment.