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Different levels of arterial occlusive disease (aortoiliac, femoropopliteal, multi-level disease) can produce claudication symptoms in different leg muscle groups (buttocks, thighs, calves) in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). We tested the hypothesis that different locations of occlusive disease uniquely affect the muscles of PAD legs and produce distinctive patterns in the way claudicating patients walk. Ninety-seven PAD patients and 35 healthy controls were recruited. PAD patients were categorized to aortoiliac, femoropopliteal and multi-level disease groups using computerized tomographic angiography. Subjects performed walking trials both pain-free and during claudication pain and joint kinematics, kinetics, and spatiotemporal parameters were calculated to evaluate the net contribution of the calf, thigh and buttock muscles. PAD patients with occlusive disease affecting different segments of the arterial tree (aortoiliac, femoropopliteal, multi-level disease) presented with symptoms affecting different muscle groups of the lower extremity (calves, thighs and buttocks alone or in combination). However, no significant biomechanical differences were found between PAD groups during the pain-free conditions with minimal differences between PAD groups in the claudicating state. All statistical differences in the pain-free condition occurred between healthy controls and one or more PAD groups. A discriminant analysis function was able to adequately predict if a subject was a control with over 70% accuracy, but the function was unable to differentiate between PAD groups. In-depth gait analyses of claudicating PAD patients indicate that different locations of arterial disease produce claudication symptoms that affect different muscle groups across the lower extremity but impact the function of the leg muscles in a diffuse manner generating similar walking impairments.


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