Blue Toe Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Last Updated on December 6, 2022 by Dr. Saqib Mueed

Table of Contents

What is blue toe syndrome?

This syndrome is named as occlusive vasculopathy, in which toes color is blue and black. This syndrome is linked with some little vessels and takes place with previous damage that can generate cyanoses, like hypoxemia or methemoglobinemia. It has mostly occurred in old age.

Other names: Arteries, iliac, Atheroembolism, Blue toe syndrome, Iliac arteries, stenosis, obstruction, Trash Foot


  • This disease was the first time reported in 1976 which tells the immediate start of severe pain cyanosis in the toes.
  • It is severe cyber ischemia. This happens when the toes do not have sufficient blood.
  • The body takes hold of blood which carries oxygen from the lungs to the entire parts of the body.
  • Due to the insufficient amount of blood, cells and tissues are harmed. And the color of the tissue is changed mainly blue or purple.
  • At this time the blue toes mean blue toe syndrome. Few people have staining on their one toe, and few have on both feet. [1]


  1. Severe pain in feet and sometimes in the legs
  2. Purplish skin
  3. Pain in the muscles of the legs
  4. Ulcers on both foot
  5. Nodules and lesions on the feet
  6. Bruising


This disease happens due to an obstacle in the veins of the foot. And the feet did not get sufficient blood. Following are the causes:

  • Reduced Arterial Flow
  • Damaged venous outflow
  • Deformities in the circulation of blood

Some important causes are below


Cholesterol is a smoothie material used by the body for the production of hormones, vitamins D and many other materials which helps in digestion of food.

An excess amount of cholesterol into the blood is assorted with other materials and a plate is formed. When this plate attaches to the walls of the arteries the veins start tapering and causing atherosclerosis. This plate can chunk the arteries.

Embolism: In this method, an embolus is formed. It arises from a cardiac swelling. It has happened when anything blocked a blood vessel. The plate sometimes can shatter away from the walls of the artery and move on every side of the body in the bloodstream. The same situation has happened in the process of blood clotting. This process is voluntary.

Thrombosis: It is found in the vein of the feet. It results in a syndrome named antiphospholipid, thromboangitis obliterans.

Vasoconstrictive disorders

Muscular walls of the feet are shrunk in this disorder. In many cases, it affects the many fingers more seriously than toes.

Impaired venous outflow

Some patients have the following conditions:

  • Immovability
  • Clotting complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Legs preceding damages
  • Malignancy 


It is a basic medical method. Doctors have used this method to cure the disease. In this method, doctors put a needle into the artery at the groin, and at this time the narrow drift is named as catheters by way of the arterial system. They took x-ray images of the infected person. And introduce an agent into the bloodstream. Sometimes, the method can thump a section of plate close the walls of the artery and which is a source of this syndrome.”

Vascular surgery

This is a very sensitive process. This can occur in arteries, veins, lymphatic system are present. When it happens into the feet it causes this syndrome.


Many medications mostly the medicine that are not research products can cause this type of syndrome.

Failure in kidneys

Kidney failure is another most important factor of blue toe syndrome


If doctors cannot put back the flow of blood in the feet, tissues can die. Some specialists named this gangrene.


Ultrasound scans and CT angiograms are important tools to cure this syndrome. It’s very tough to cure this syndrome. There are many obstacles in the veins of feet. In diagnosis first of all find the problem in the arterial system.[5]


Treatments focuses to put back the blood flow into the toes. But the best way to keep away from this syndrome and is to keep good health of the heart.”

In the treatment firstly know the cause of blue toe syndrome. In this process, clots are vanished and alleviate blockage, and put back the blood flow. Below some process that can help in this regard.


In this process, a surgeon puts a web tube named a stent into the blood vessels. It holds on to the vessel open and the blood pass through it easily.”


A doctor removed a blood vessel from the body in this surgery. Doctors mostly tell people to take rest, warm, and to take enough liquid.

Anti-coagulants and antiplatelet therapy

This therapy helped a very short period but is linked with a high repetition rate of blue toe syndrome. [2]JVasc-05-4-b-pdf.p65 ([3]PII: 0741-5214(86)90111-4 ([4]The Blue Toe Syndrome: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Considerations – Jonathan D. Satinsky, Irwin K. Kline, 1981 ([5]Blue Toe Syndrome: A Challenging Diagnosis – PMC (

Reviewed by:

Dr. Sajid Rehman Randhawa

MBBS, FCPS (surgery)

Associate Professor Punjab medical college, Faisalabad

Our reviewers’ details, Click Here

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