Cannabis smoking could lead to leg amputation
9 May 2016
A 26-year-old man who smoked a gram of cannabis a day has become the first Australian to be diagnosed with Cannabis Arteritis, a rare blood vessel condition that can lead to amputation.
The man’s surgeons report that he first presented with ischaemia (a lack of blood flow) to the lower limb and further investigations revealed narrowing (stenosis) in the superficial artery.
The man was successfully treated with balloon angioplasty, a procedure that widens the artery, and started life-long aspirin.
Presenting the case at the Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) in Brisbane this week, Dr David Soon from the Royal Australian College of Surgeons said the condition could have serious ramifications, including amputation of the lower limb.
In this case, the man’s drug habit caused a plaque build-up around his toe, resulting in an ulcer that failed to heal.
A systematic review of cases of Cannabis Arteritis found that prevalence was higher among men, with the majority presenting with necrotic wounds on their toes.
“One important observation from these cases is that the patient has better prognosis upon cessation of cannabis consumption,” Dr Soon said.