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Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral Vascular Disease – (PVD)  is a disorder causing narrowing or hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet. Often, plaque can build up in the vessel and limit the blood flow and oxygen to the extremities.

Risk Factors

  • Abnormal cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease (coronary artery disease)
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Smoking
  • Stroke
  • Age
  • Family history


  • Pain in legs
  • Numbness in legs
  • Tingling in the legs
  • Muscle cramping in the legs
  • Achiness in the legs
  • Leg fatigue
  • Heaviness in the legs
  • Burning in the legs
  • Poorly healing wounds in the legs
  • Gangrene in the legs
  • Pain and cramps in the night in the legs
  • Discoloration in the legs
  • Impotence

How is Peripheral Vascular Disease Diagnosed?

The most common way to diagnose PVD is through an ankle-brachial index (ABI), which compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the pressure in your arm. If abnormalities are detected, a follow-up arterial ultrasound of the legs is then performed to further evaluate the severity of the diagnosis.


Each treatment option for peripheral vascular disease is patient specific and may include one or all of the following options:

Conservative Management – Your vascular surgeon may recommend medication to control your cholesterol and or blood pressure, as well as suggest lifestyle changes including exercise and smoking cessation.

Diagnostic Angiography:

  • Angiogram – A procedure that is used to investigate abnormalities of the blood vessels. During the procedure a catheter is placed in the selected blood vessel and contrast is administered while a set of diagnostic images are obtained. These images allow your physician to visualize the flow of the contrast and identify any blockages. At that time, your vascular surgeon will then choose the best therapy treatment option they feel necessary for your diagnosis.

The following treatment options include:

  • Angioplasty – During the angiogram a small balloon is passed through a catheter to the narrowed area of the vessel. The balloon is then inflated to expand the vessel wall which improves the flow of blood. Upon completion, the balloon is then deflated and removed.
  • Atherectomy – A catheter with a sharp rotating blade is placed into the artery to remove the buildup of plaque or calcium from the blood vessel wall. This technique is often referred to as “Rotor Rooting”. This will sometimes be done in combination with angioplasty and arterial stenting.
  • Arterial stenting – A catheter containing a stent or a wire mesh tube, is placed in the narrowing of the artery. Once the stent is deployed, it expands and pushes the plaque to the exterior of the artery. This allows the blood to flow more freely. This is permanently left in place to ensure the continued flow of blood throughout the artery.
  • Arterial bypass repair – A procedure where a Vascular Surgeon creates an alternative path around the blockage for the blood to flow more freely. The bypass can be created using a synthetic graft or a vein from your leg.

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