What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
Peripheral Arterial Disease occurs when plaque, made of cholesterol and/or calcium, builds up in the arteries supplying blood to your extremities, narrowing them and reducing the flow of blood. This process is known as atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.”
PAD is a serious condition that affects one in every 20 Americans and should be diagnosed promptly by vascular specialists so they can reduce your risk as quickly as possible.
All patients with PAD are at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke and some are at risk of losing a limb to amputation as a result of non-treatment. If arterial disease is caught early, it can be treated conservatively with lifestyle, diet, exercise and medication. Left untreated, however, the disease can progress to the point of causing symptoms such as:
- Pain, numbness or heaviness in your legs especially when walking or climbing stairs
- Burning pain in the toes and feet when at rest, or that disturbs your sleep
- Sores or wounds on your legs, feet and toes that fail to heal
- Color changes in your feet that turn the skin pale or blue
- Poor nail growth and/or decreased hair growth on legs and toes
- In men, erectile dysfunction, especially if you also have diabetes
In advanced cases of PAD, more extensive treatment might be necessary to keep the disease from progressing further.
How is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) treated?
At ECCO, we treat advanced cases of PAD with a number of specialized, minimally invasive arterial interventions. Depending on the case and its severity, this procedure may include:
- Balloon Angioplasty
- Stent Placement
These are usually performed as outpatient procedures in our clinic with sedation. The procedures usually take between one and four hours, depending on the complexity.
What is Arteriogram with Intervention?
“Arterio” means artery and “Gram” means picture. Before we treat anything, we create maps of your arteries using a dye that is injected into your arteries and we view its path through your arteries with the help of X-ray. We can see where the arteries are going, what they’re feeding and any obstructions or abnormalities.
Once we determine a diagnosis and proper treatment path, a local anesthetic will be administered to numb your skin. We then place a needle into the artery in your groin (femoral artery) or wrist (radial artery) using ultrasound to guide our needle.
This needle is hollow so that we can thread a wire through the needle and into the artery. We then place a sheath into the artery which is a one-way valve that allows us to maintain temporary access into the artery without any blood loss.
From here we may perform:
- Balloon Angioplasty: This means to use a balloon to open a narrowing or blockage in an artery. This is performed with a specialized catheter with an elongated balloon or its tip that is then inflated.
- Atherectomy: This means to remove plaque buildup in the arteries and is most commonly done in the legs, but can also be done in the heart. This is performed with specialized catheters that have laser or grinding functionality.
- Stent Placement: If angioplasty or atherectomy aren’t successful in restoring flow through an artery, a stent, or a tube made of metal wire, is placed to keep the vessel open. This is a permanent implant.
These procedures are done with moderate sedation at our facility and recovery time is minimal. A closure device is used to seal your artery which decreases recovery time and can cause some bruising or soreness at the access site.
Am I a Good Candidate for PAD Treatment at ECCO?
The answer to this question depends on the advice of your recommending physician(s), and a thorough physical examination by ECCO’s doctors. To diagnose your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment, we might use non-invasive imaging studies such as ultrasound of the arteries, Pulse Volume Recording or CT Angiography.
Is There Recovery Time?
Naturally, the amount of time required for recovery depends upon the type of treatment administered. However, most patients report minimal recovery time. After some procedures we recommend no heavy lifting for the first five days, but other than this restriction, you can resume your normal physical activity.
Learn more – Five Facts About Peripheral Arterial Disease