South Charlotte General and Vascular Surgery
Vascular Surgeon located in Charlotte, NC
Peripheral arterial disease is quite common affecting almost 12 million patients in the US. It occurs as a result of direct damage to the arteries from a number of toxic chemicals circulating in the blood and is associated with a number of common conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. At SCGVS Vascular and Vein Center, our PAD specialists offer the latest state-of-the-art vascular surgery procedures to correct vascular disease complications and get patients on the fast track to good health. As vascular surgeons, they are able to offer you all the options for treatment including minimally invasive endovascular as well as traditional open surgery when needed for more advanced disease conditions. If you’re suffering from a vascular condition and want to understand your surgical options, call us to schedule your consultation or book online.
Peripheral Artery Disease Q & A
What is peripheral arterial vascular disease?
Your arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to all the various organs in your body including your legs. Healthy arteries have a smooth surface on the inside which allows blood to flow unobstructed. With age, a build-up of plaque (a sticky substance made primarily out of fat and cholesterol) may occur if you have one or more of the risk factors. As it builds up over time, the plaque may lead to a blockage of the arteries which can narrow (stenosis) or block the passage of blood completely (occlusion), resulting in what is known as peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.) in the legs.
A similar process may occur in the arteries of the neck (carotid arteries) and may lead to stroke symptoms. In some patients the inflammation leads to a weakening of the wall of the artery causing it to enlarge and form an aneurysm. Some common types of vascular conditions include peripheral artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and carotid artery stenosis.
Am I at risk for P.A.D? Should I be screened?
If you over the age of 50, experiencing leg pain and have one or more of the following conditions may warrant an evaluation from your doctor and in some cases a referral to our center:
- Smoking (current or former)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease (personal or family)
- Kidney disease
How do I know if I have P.A.D.? (what are the symptoms)
In the early stages of P.A.D., patients may not experience any noticeable symptoms. Over time, the plaque build-up becomes significant, and patients will start experience claudication (“leg attack” or recurrent pain in the feet, legs or thighs when walking and relieved by short periods of rest). The symptoms may remain stable for a long time but may worsen as the disease progress, and patients may eventually report pain at rest, particularly at night, or discoloration in the feet and toes, both signs of severe and advancing disease.
Other symptoms of P.A.D. may include:
- Cramping in the thigh and buttocks when walking
- Atrophy of the muscles in the calf of the affected leg
- Brittle nails, dry and scaly skin in the affected leg
- Numbness in the toes and foot of the affected leg
- Ulcer or breakdown of the skin from lack of blood flow
- Infections in the toes or foot
- Non healing of wounds after minor surgery on the foot or nails
- Impotence in men
How is P.A.D. diagnosed?
Your vascular specialist takes a detailed medical history to determine your risk factors for various vascular diseases. A simple physical examination may reveal certain findings or clues to suggest underlying disease. For some conditions, your provider might perform a Doppler ultrasound test, known as a duplex scan, which is a noninvasive painless test that will evaluate the arteries, and localize the disease in order to make a correct diagnosis and determine proper treatment.
Other noninvasive testing such as applying blood cuff pressures with and without exercise may also supplement Doppler ultrasound results in certain situations. More advanced imaging may also be needed like in the setting of an aneurysm where a specialized CT- scan may be very helpful to size the aneurysm and direct appropriate treatment.
Why is P.A.D. so dangerous?
Although the disease process affecting your legs may remain stable and not progress to a critical level, P.A.D. is a marker for other cardiovascular diseases, and as such, may be associated with decreased longevity if one develops symptoms in other vascular beds, particularly in the arteries of the heart or brain.
Treatment of PAD:
Treatment for P.A.D. depends on a few factors, including the severity of your symptoms and whether you have coexisting medical conditions. Conservative treatments such as lifestyle and dietary modifications (link) can offer excellent results for minor to moderate cases. More severe cases might require medications or interventions to help restore blood flow to your arteries.
Our experienced vascular surgeons are able to treat severe blockages in the leg arteries and save patient from losing their legs to P.A.D. Our amputation prevention program is one of the premier programs in the region and continues to be recognized both by patients and referring physicians. At SCGVS vascular and vein center, our team is honored to care for patients who are referred to us, sometimes from miles away, often after they have undergone unsuccessful interventions elsewhere.
The majority of the procedures that SCGVS performed for the treatment of peripheral arterial disease are performed in our accredited office-based cath. lab allowing our patients to resume their usual activities within about a day. Our highly skilled vascular specialists are able to perform these procedures in the office with excellent outcomes. They will attend to your vascular needs in our office in a comfortable and serene environment. In particularly advanced conditions, you might require traditional open surgery for treatment – which would require admission and a short hospital stay.
If you or a family member are suffering from a vascular condition or have a family history of vascular problems, come visit us at SCGVS Vascular & Vein Center in South Charlotte, to receive the expert care you need to maintain your vascular health.
To learn more from our PAD specialists, call to schedule your consultation or book online.