Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral vascular disease refers to narrowing of the peripheral arteries, usually in the legs, due to a build up of fatty deposits or plaques. It develops slowly over years and many sufferers do not recognise the symptoms. The commonest symptoms are heaviness or pain in the legs on walking which may be relieved by resting for a while. This is what is known as intermittent claudication. More serious peripheral arterial disease may result in pain at rest or even leg ulcers. People most at risk are smokers or ex-smokers, diabetics, those with high blood pressure or raised cholesterol and those with a family history or peripheral vascular disease, heart disease or stroke.

Radiology has much to offer in the detection of peripheral vascular disease and interventional radiology offers many minimally invasive treatments that may avoid the need for by-pass surgery. The leg arteries can be scanned quickly and easily in an out-patient setting using doppler ultrasound scanning. In certain cases a CT scan or MRI scan may be necessary, particularly if intervention is planned.

Arterial narrowings detected on scanning can be widened up by a procedure called angioplasty when a balloon is passed over a guidewire under x-ray guidance and local anaesthetic through the narrowing. The balloon is then inflated and blood flow to the limb restored. Even complete blockages or occlusions can be re-opened. In certain cases the artery may recoil or narrow down again following angioplasty and in these cases the interventional radiologist can place a stent, a small metallic tube that is deployed under x-ray guidance and stays in place permanently to hold the artery open. All of these procedures are performed via a tiny needle puncture in the groin or the arm under local anaesthetic. In many cases the patient does home the same day.

For further information or to make an appointment please use the contact form or speak to Dr. Crowe’s secretary on 0121 – 448 1502.

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