Current estimates reveal that about 20% of people over age 60 have some degree of Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD. Severely under-diagnosed, this condition usually manifests as calf soreness and is typically dismissed for years as “aging” by most patients. While the symptoms may prove irritating, the condition itself is as life-threatening as coronary artery disease.
PAD: How it’s Diagnosed
Utilizing two office-based, non-invasive studies, ECCO physicians can diagnose this circulatory disease. Both studies occur on the same day as initial consultation, immediately prior to seeing the physician.
- Ultrasound: This is an anatomic (structural) study which looks at the blood vessels themselves highlighting any narrowings or blockages.
- Pulse Volume Recording (PVR): A study using blood pressure cuffs on the thighs and calves to evaluate artery functionality. The results of this study indicate if there is any lack of or slowed flow anywhere in the leg.
After completing these studies, patients will discuss results and consult with their ECCO physician. During this conversation, patient and physician will review results and how they correlate with patient symptoms/clinical picture to determine if PAD intervention is appropriate. If intervention is the best course of action, then a procedure will occur at the office on a later date.
PAD Treatment involves performing an arteriogram done under moderate sedation. This procedure produces a picture of your arteries. Using ultrasound guidance, a hollow needle glides its way into the femoral artery in the groin. Through this needle, a wire advances into the artery as the physicians watch on X-ray.
Specialized tiny tubes, or catheters, advance and exchange over the wire using X-ray guidance. Contrast material, or dye, injects through these catheters to evaluate blood flow and identify narrowings and blockages. Once the wire gets through the narrowing or blockage, specialized equipment can “revascularize” or simply put, treat the plaque buildup to restore normal flow through the arteries. To hear Dr. Kovaleski speak more about this process, click here.
Typically, PAD workups come recommended and referred by primary care physicians and podiatrists. However, patients have to be their own advocates. Here is a list of symptoms that could indicate potential PAD.
- 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
If any of the above PAD symptoms apply to you, don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule a consultation.