Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Cardiologists and vascular surgeons at Duke use novel techniques and minimally invasive procedures to widen arteries narrowed by peripheral vascular disease, also known as peripheral artery disease. Our physicians evaluate your risk factors and use the latest treatment advances to restore blood flow to your arms and legs. Our goal is to minimize your risk for heart attack, stroke and amputation.
Expert Diagnosis and Management of Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease should be taken seriously whether you experience painful symptoms or none at all. Often referred to as “poor circulation,” peripheral vascular disease occurs when fatty deposits build up on the inner walls of blood vessels and restrict normal blood flow. While peripheral vascular disease usually affects the arteries in your legs, is can also affect arteries to your arms, head and vital organs. Sometimes it can lead to serious problems, including heart attack, stroke, and amputation.
As experts in the diagnosis and management of peripheral vascular disease, our specialists use advanced screening to identify the condition at every stage. When advanced disease is present, we use combinations of surgery and minimally invasive procedures. We are also researching exciting alternatives to surgery, like stem cell therapy, to grow new blood vessels. We are always here to help you make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of serious complications.
Choose Duke for your peripheral vascular disease treatment because we offer:
- Top-ranked care. U.S. News and World Report ranks Duke Heart Center among the best in the nation, based on our patients’ survival rates, the number of procedures we perform and the quality of our support services.
- Experience and expertise. Our board-certified vascular surgeons and interventional cardiologists perform more than 3,000 minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures annually. Catheters let us access and open arteries narrowed by peripheral vascular disease using laser devices and drug-coated stents. You experience less pain, scarring and recover faster.
- Novel surgical alternatives. We are studying the promising use of bioengineered blood vessels in the legs and arms when peripheral vascular disease is advanced.
- Dedicated support for limb loss. Should your peripheral vascular disease result in loss of a limb, care givers from across multiple disciplines collaborate to provide comprehensive care. Care begins before your operation and continues through prosthesis and rehabilitation, often ending with regaining the ability to walk.
- Healthy lifestyle support. Our cardiac prevention and rehabilitation specialists help you eat healthier, start exercising, quit smoking, lose weight and manage your blood pressure.
PERIPHERAL VASCULAR DISEASE AND PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE
Our cardiac rehabilitation and cardiac prevention program includes exercise physiologists, dietitians and others who help you lose weight, stop smoking, start exercising and lower your blood pressure. They monitor your progress, help you overcome symptoms like leg pain, and boost your self-confidence to help you work toward a heart healthy lifestyle.
Statins and anti-clotting drugs improve blood flow, control symptoms and slow the progression of peripheral vascular disease.
You may be eligible to participate in our clinical trials, in which we are studying newer medications, such as anti-clotting drugs, as well as dietary supplements like nitric oxide to slow the progression of peripheral vascular disease. Learn more about clinical trials.
We use a long tube or catheter to access and open narrowed arteries. These minimally invasive, interventional therapies include:
- Balloon angioplasty. A small balloon is inflated within the artery to push aside the blockages.
- Stenting. Using a catheter, a tiny tubular scaffolding device, called a stent, is inserted into the artery after balloon angioplasty, and expanded to hold the artery open. Drug-coated stents may be inserted to reduce the risk of blood clots in the artery.
- Atherectomy. A device that gently scrapes away fatty deposits is inserted into the artery via a catheter.
- Laser ablation. A laser painlessly vaporizes fatty deposits into particles tiny enough to be safely absorbed into the bloodstream.
We are one of the few centers in the Southeast to combine minimally invasive procedures with surgical approaches to open clogged arteries and improve blood flow. This hybrid approach reduces the risk of complications associated with undergoing two separate procedures, and results in quicker recovery.
If you have severe peripheral vascular disease, or are at risk for amputation, our surgeons may use a vein from another part of the body to create a new path for blood flow that bypasses the blocked artery.
PERIPHERAL VASCULAR DISEASE AND PERIPHERAL ARTERIAL DISEASE
Screening and Tests
Peripheral vascular disease is often present without symptoms, but some people may experience aching, pain or numbness in the leg muscles whey they walk or climb stairs. To ensure prompt and accurate diagnosis, our physicians perform the following tests to confirm its presence and define its severity.
This test is used to determine whether your legs are affected by peripheral vascular disease. The blood pressure of your ankle is compared to the blood pressure in your arm while an ultrasound device listens to the flow of blood in both areas.
A noninvasive test that uses sound waves to measure the speed of blood flow in your arteries and veins and creates images to determine where blood flow is restricted.
X-ray, CT and MRI assess damage to vessels and arteries caused by peripheral vascular disease. The high-resolution images are used in combination with angiography -- involves contrast dye injections in the arm -- to more clearly diagnose the presence of narrow areas in the arteries.