Resources

Q

What is Peripheral Arterial Disease/ Peripheral Vascular Disease?

A

Atherosclerotic plaque.

Approximately one million Americans develop symptoms of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) each year. PVD results from the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries of the lower extremities causing obstruction of blood flow to the legs and feet. Patients with PVD typically suffer from exercise induced pain the in calf, thigh or buttocks. More advanced cases may present with foot pain at rest, non-healing foot ulcers or wounds, or gangrene.

Q

How is Peripheral Vascular Disease diagnosed?

A

MR angiography and CT angiography are non-invasive diagnostic tests to evaluate for clogged arteries.

Angiography is an X-ray examination of your arteries. An interventional radiologist places a catheter (a small tube) into one of your arteries and injects contrast into the vessel while taking X-rays of the area. The contrast makes the artery visible on the X-rays. A blockage of an artery can be one of the most common reason for an angiography. An angiogram can tell where the artery is blocked, how severe it is and what is causing it. Common causes could be a blood clot or atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). An angiogram has three major steps: insertion of a small catheter (plastic tube) into your body, injection of contrast into an artery while X-ray images are obtained, and removal of the catheter. You will be given a local anesthetic for the catheter insertion and will just feel pressure. Removal of the catheter does not hurt; however, pressure will be placed on the site to stop the artery from bleeding. The angiogram usually takes one to two hours to complete.

Q

What are the risk factors for developing Peripheral Vascualr Disease?

A

Risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of vascular disease
Q

What are the treatment options for Peripheral Vascular Disease?

A

Conservative treatment options, including cessation of tobacco use, exercise programs, and lowering cholesterol levels are the first line of defense against peripheral vascular disease. Many patients with PVD can be treated successfully with minimally invasive techniques such as balloon angioplasty (PTA). Angioplasty involves inflation of a balloon catheter in the diseased artery at the site of blockage. The arterial blockage is stretched open, which establishes a better channel for blood flow. Often a vascular stent is placed concurrently at the site of blockage to mechanically support the diseased artery. The stent decreases the chance that the blood vessel will close up again.

Surgery for peripheral vascular disease is generally reserved for those symptomatic patients who do not respond to conservative treatments and whose vascular anatomy and arterial blockages are not optimal for angioplasty and stent intervention.