Acute limb ischemia in COVID-19 patients despite therapeutic anticoagulation: Experience from Africa

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Thrombosis Update


Background: Hypercoagulability is a common complication seen in COVID-19 infection. However, arterial thrombosis such as acute limb ischemia (ALI) is far less common. Data on the incidence and nature of arterial thromboembolic complications in patients with COVID-19 is limited, originating from a few case reports and case series. Data in the African continent are very scarce. Method: This is a case series of 10 patients with COVID-19 who developed ALI while on treatment at Eka Kotebe General Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All patients with ALI and COVID-19 admitted between February 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, were retrospectively identified and reviewed. COVID-19 was confirmed by RT-PCR and ALI was confirmed by Doppler ultrasound and/or computed tomography angiography in the presence of clinical suspicion. Results: A total of 3098 patients were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 during the study period. In a series of 10 patients, 8 (80%) males with a median age of 53.5 years were included. All except one (10%) had one or more risk factors for ALI and one had a ‘possible’ case of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) associated with ALI. All were admitted with severe COVID-19 and most (80%) developed ALI during hospitalization (median of seven days from admission). The median duration between COVID-19 and ALI symptom onset was 14.5 days (IQR, 11–15). The majority (60%) were taking therapeutic anticoagulation at the time of ALI onset which is the standard of care for patients with severe disease. Five (50%) were successfully revascularized (median time of 3.5 days) and the rest underwent amputation. All survived and were discharged improved. Conclusion: ALI can occur in the context of COVID-19 even while a patient is on therapeutic dose anticoagulation and in the absence of traditional risk factors. It is wise to be vigilant of this complication for timely intervention and better treatment outcomes.



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