Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a common, though serious condition that typically affects individuals 65 years of age and older. It usually develops as a result of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, when cholesterol and scar tissue build up and form plaque inside the arteries. This plaque decreases blood flow to the legs, which can cause pain when walking and eventually lead to gangrene and amputation.
Since atherosclerosis is a systemic disease, meaning it affects the entire body, individuals with PAD are also likely to have blocked blood vessels in other areas. They may be at risk for heart disease, aortic aneurysms and stroke.
- Painful cramping in the hip, thigh or calf when walking or exercising that usually goes away when the activity stops
- Numbness, tingling and weakness in the legs and feet
- Burning or aching pain in feet or toes when resting
- Sores on legs or feet that don’t heal
- Cold legs or feet
- Loss of hair on legs
- Weak pulse in the legs or feet
- Erectile dysfunction
Some patients with PAD can be treated with lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and exercise while others can take medications. For those who need further treatment, Holy Name Medical Center’s Interventional Radiologists can perform minimally invasive procedures to increase blood flow.
Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy
Angioplasty, or opening up blocked blood vessels, was first used on patients with PAD. Interventional radiologists, using imaging for guidance, thread a catheter from the groin to the blocked vessel in the leg. They then inflate a balloon to open the vessel where it is narrowed or clogged. At times, the area is held open with a stent graft, a tiny metal cylinder covered with fabric, which remains permanently in place. New advances allow the use of medicated balloons and stents to improve healing.
Atherectomy involves threading a tiny catheter to the site of the blockage and then shaving or cutting the plaque from the artery wall and removing it.
These procedures have been shown to be successful when other treatment methods have failed.
- Requires only a tiny incision in the skin to insert the catheter.
- Less time in the hospital and faster recovery compared to open surgery.
- Fewer complications than open surgery.