Authors: Ng WK, Rosenblatt Y, Brock GB, O’Gorman DB, Gan BS

PMID: 21358864 PMCID: PMC2851459


The treatment of digital ischemia remains difficult. Sildenafil (Viagra, Pfizer UK), a selective phosphodiesterase inhibitor, increases blood flow and is currently marketed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. A case of a 57-year-old man with progressive episodic ischemia and pain of the fingertips resulting in finger tip ulceration is presented. After failure of medical and surgical management, a trial of oral sildenafil resulted in marked symptomatic improvement of his bilateral digital ischemia. Review of the literature shows that, particularly in patients with an underlying disease such as sclero-derma with a vasospastic component, a marked improvement in digital blood flow may be observed with sildenafil use. Overall, based on a number of case reports and preliminary animal studies in the literature, sildenafil appears to have a growing significance in the treatment of hand ischemia. Similarly, there is evidence that phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors may be used as an adjunct to improving skin flap survival.

Keywords: Digital ischemia; Phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PDE inhibitors); Sildenafil; Skin flap survival.