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Scand J Surg. 2012;101(2):125-31.

Angiosome theory: fact or fiction?

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Department of Vascular and Thoracic Surgery, Princess Paola Hospital, Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium.


The angiosome concept delineates the human body into three-dimensional blocks of tissue fed by specific arterial and venous sources named "angiosomes." Adjacent angiosomes are connected by a vast compensatory collateral web, or "choke vessels." This concept may provide new information applicable to improving targeted revascularization of ischemic tissue lesions. A few dedicated studies available seem to favor this strategy, as encouraging ulcer healing and limb preservation are reported in connection with both bypass and endovascular techniques based on these principles. The theory on the angiosome model of revascularization (AMV) may help the clinician to better refine vessel selection, vascular access, and specific strategies in the revascularization of critically ischemic legs with tissue lesions. Specific applications of angiosome-guided revascularization were recently suggested for patients with diabetes or renal insufficiency, with ischemic tissue lesions of the lower limb, and extended large- and medium-size collateral network decay. For these cases, the concept may allow deliberate arterial reconstruction following individual wound topographies in specific ischemic areas, although deprived from "rescue-vessel" supply. The AMV theory may contribute to a shift in common reperfusion options. However, the data available is suggestive and does not provide strong evidence as factors such as case mix and the severity of ischemia are unsatisfactorily controlled. At present, the evidence is scarce as to the effect of the severity of the arterial disease. In all comparisons, the groups treated are likely to be dissimilar and mismatched. The angiosome concept is postulated to be valid especially in diabetics, whose ischemic lesions tend to heal worse than those of non-diabetics.

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