Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, occurs when fatty deposits known as plaque build-up in the arteries supplying your legs and feet. This build-up can cause pain and soreness. Often mistaken for arthritis, PAD can be misdiagnosed as various chronic leg pain conditions.
While both men and women suffer from PAD at similar rates, it tends to more commonly affect those in older demographics. The CDC estimates that approximately 6.5 million people aged 40 and older have PAD. Those with high-blood pressure, a history of tobacco use, diabetes, and high blood cholesterol are also at high risk of having PAD.
The most well-known symptom of PAD is intermittent claudication. Intermittent claudication is pain and cramping of the legs that only occurs while you are walking, and goes away when you stop and rest. The root cause of this symptom is poor blood flow, preventing the proper amount of blood from traveling between blocked arteries and muscles.
PAD can also cause slow-healing wounds, sores or discoloration of the skin, hair loss on the legs, and a burning and aching pain in the feet or toes. The symptoms of PAD will often affect one leg worse than the other, though both legs can suffer some level of pain. If ignored, these symptoms can worsen, and lead to severe health complications.
PAD is diagnosed by a physical exam conducted by your primary care physician, who will look for a weak arterial pulse or improperly healing wounds. If these tests are not conclusive, the doctor may order an ankle-brachial index, which tests the blood pressure in the ankles. An ultrasound or an angiography may also be necessary to determine if you have PAD.
An angiogram is imaging of an artery obtained with a small amount of contrast dye and/or carbon dioxide. This procedure is performed under conscious sedation, which will allow you to sleep during the procedure. The imaging obtained during an angiogram can be both diagnostic and/or for treatment. This is done by making a small nick in the skin at the access site, usually the groin. A thin catheter is then placed into the artery for imaging and potential treatment. This imaging allows our Vascular Interventional Radiologists to see inside of an artery. They can then access potential obstructions. There are a variety of treatments that can be done during an angiogram. Most common treatments can include angioplasty, atherectomy, and/or stent placement. What are the potential treatments that can be done during an angiogram
An angioplasty is the widening of an artery using a specialized catheter with a balloon on the end. Once the catheter is placed in the narrowed artery the balloon is inflated to widen the artery and restore proper blood flow. The size and length of the balloon is carefully selected by the Vascular Interventional Radiologist. Imaging and expertise allow for proper balloon placement, selection, and inflation, so it is important to select the right physician much like our experienced Vascular Interventional Radiologists here at Provas Labs.
An angioplasty will begin similarly to an atherectomy, beginning with a small cut, catheter insertion, and the use of a contrast to help guide the catheter to the artery. Once the catheter has been guided to the artery, the small balloon on it’s tip will be inflated. This widens the arterial walls, stopping the blockage and restoring proper blood flow. The catheter is then removed, and the procedure is complete.
An atherectomy is a treatment for PAD that involves the removal of plaque build up from an affected artery. This allows blood to more easily flow through the veins to the muscles of the heart. This is accomplished with the use of a laser or small rotating blade device attached to the end of a catheter.
The procedure is performed by a specialist known as an interventional radiologist. After sedation, the specialist will make a small cut in the groin or upper thigh area and insert the catheter. A dye known as a contrast is then injected to map out the pathways of the arteries, which helps the physician guide the catheter to the blocked area. Once reached, the atherectomy device will destroy the plaque, widening the artery and allowing blood to flow freely. The catheter is then removed, and the procedure is concluded.
A stent is a metal mesh tube that is inserted permanently into an artery to help keep the vessel open. The stent is placed using the imaging from an angiogram and is placed by a Vascular Specialist. The placement of a stent is often used in conjunction with an angioplasty. The procedural steps are very similar, but instead of a balloon, the stent is what holds the artery open. This ensures consistent blood flow after the procedure is complete. The placement of a stent is very precise and choosing an expert in this field is important, much like our Vascular Interventional Radiologist at Provas Labs.
Each of these treatments is best suited for patients who don’t wish to undergo major surgery. When employed, these treatments can prevent PAD from worsening, and negate the need for a peripheral artery bypass surgery. While this surgery will alleviate the symptoms of PAD, it’s best to treat this condition before surgery is necessary.
Because these treatments are minimally-invasive, they don’t carry the same risk of complications and infection that major surgery does. They are also same-day procedures, meaning once they are complete you will be able to recover in the comfort of your own home.
These treatments do not require the use of general anesthesia. Patients will be sedated for their comfort, but remain conscious throughout the duration. Because no large incisions are made, these treatments are also free of the scarring associated with surgery.
Now that you know your options, there is one more decision to make. When choosing the facility that will conduct your PAD treatment, you will want to choose a staff that specialize in vascular treatments, and use the latest in state-of-the-art technology.
If you want effective medical professionals who achieve positive results, you will want to choose ProVas Labs.
At ProVas Labs, we understand the pain involved with PAD. We make it our mission to not only relieve you of these symptoms, but do so with the utmost care and compassion. Our interventional radiologists specialize in vascular treatments, and treat each procedure with the same high level of focus and precision.
Major surgery is not your only option. If you don’t wish to have a peripheral artery bypass, minimally-invasive PAD treatments can offer you a solution that doesn’t involve the risk and discomfort of invasive procedures. We understand this can be a difficult time, and we want to answer any questions you may have. Simply schedule a consultation today!
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