Hypoperfusion refers to an inadequate supply of blood to an organ or extremity like the brain or hand. If it persists, it can cause oxygen deprivation, a condition termed "ischemia," and it also deprives the tissue of needed nutrients and waste disposal. This can cause tissue death and the formation of lesions. In the case of a hand, for example, the patient may lose one or more digits because they can’t getting enough blood.
Signs can vary, depending on the location. In extremities, inadequate blood supply can cause symptoms like numbing, tingling, and bluing. Hypoperfusion of an organ like the heart can create functional problems, while in the brain, it may lead to cognitive deficits. The patient might have slurred speech, confusion, or extreme forgetfulness; these may all be factors indicating that something is going wrong in the brain.
There are a number of causes of this condition. They can include massive blood loss, low blood pressure, constriction, and injuries to blood vessels. Identifying the cause is an important step in treatment, as it needs to be addressed in order to restore the normal flow of blood to the involved limb so the patient will stabilize. Sometimes it may be obvious; a patient having a stroke, for example, may have signs of hypoperfusion to part of the brain due to bleeding inside the skull.
In an evaluation of a patient with suspected hypoperfusion, medical professionals can explore possible causes with a physical examination, imaging studies, and interview. Doppler ultrasound of the arm, for example, could show that the flow of blood to the hand is restricted by a blockage. This testing can be important even if the cause appears obvious, to make sure it is fully identified and described. If a patient appears to have massive bleeding after a car accident from an injury in the leg, for instance, an ultrasound of the abdomen might be important too, to find internal bleeding.
Once the cause is identified, possible treatment options can be explored. Vascular repairs may address problems like ruptured or blocked blood vessels. Hypoperfusion associated with a medical problem like low blood pressure may be treated by taking measures to correct the underlying problem. Blood and fluid transfusions can increase blood volume for people who have it due to blood loss. Chronic problems may require ongoing assessment and maintenance to make sure the patient is treated appropriately in the long term in order to catch complications early.