Lower Extremity Arterial Disease
- Posted on: Mar 15 2018
When a narrowing or blockage of the arteries decreases blood flow into the legs, this is known as lower extremity arterial disease. At Nevada Vein and Vascular, we have various treatments to remove the blockage and return proper blood flow to your legs.
What is lower extremity arterial disease?
Arterial disease, no matter where it occurs in the body, commonly occurs in people who suffer from atherosclerosis, informally known as hardening of the arteries. This happens when plaque builds up on the inner walls of the arteries, narrowing them and eventually clogging blood flow. Because the arteries in the legs aren’t providing enough blood flow, the patient usually will have pain and cramping when walking. This can progress to pain in the toes and fee when a person is resting.
What are the symptoms of lower extremity arterial disease?
If you feel pain and cramping in the hips, thighs, or calves when walking, but this goes away when at rest, this is known as claudication. The reason it occurs when walking is that the leg muscles require more oxygen-rich blood during exercise but can’t get it due to the decreased circulation.
If atherosclerosis progresses, pain may develop in the toes or feet even when the person is resting. This is known as “rest pain,” and shows the arterial disease is reaching a critical stage.
These are additional sign/symptoms of lower extremity arterial disease:
- Decreased hair growth on the legs and toes
- Paleness of the leg or foot when elevated
- Inability to feeling a pulse in the feet
- Blue/red discoloration of the foot when hanging downward
- Coolness of the leg or foot
- A sore on the foot that does not heal
What treatments are used to treat this?
At Nevada Vein and Vascular, we use what is known as percutaneous procedures to open the blockage. These are different than “open” procedures. Instead of open surgery, access to the blocked artery is gained through a needle puncture of the skin and artery, followed by the insertion of a catheter.
- Angioplasty and stenting— A wire is inserted through the needle into the artery, followed by a balloon catheter. Using ultrasound guidance, the catheter is pushed forward to the narrowed area of the artery. The balloon is then inflated, and the pressure pushes the plaque against the inner wall of the artery, opening it for blood flow. A stent, tubular support, is usually then placed to keep the artery dilated.
- Atherectomy— The catheter in this instance has a sharp blade on end to chew up and remove plaque from the leg artery. The catheter also collects the removed plaque, so it doesn’t flow through the bloodstream.
- Arterial bypass— This is not a percutaneous method. Instead, a vein from another spot in the patient’s legs or a synthetic graft is placed on the artery above where the blockage is located. It is then connected to the artery below the blockage, effectively rerouting blood around the blockage.
Posted in: Arterial Disease