Narrowing of the blood vessels in the arms and legs is called peripheral vascular disease (PVD). It is often caused by the build-up of fatty atherosclerotic plaque inside the arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to the arms or (most often) the legs, and is frequently triggered by smoking or diabetes. The surgeons at White Plains Hospital offer minimally invasive approaches to relieve the symptoms of PVD and restore healthy blood flow.
PVD may cause cramping, aching, numbness, tiredness, weakness, or burning in the buttocks, thigh, calf, or foot that occurs when walking and goes away while resting. This pain is also called "intermittent claudication." Some patients with advanced PVD develop skin ulcers due to their extremely poor circulation.
PVD is commonly diagnosed using ultrasound - high-energy sound waves used to assess blood flow through the limb. Pulse volume recordings may also be conducted to evaluate the ankle-brachial index - a comparison of the blood pressures in the arms and legs. Both of these types of exams are available at White Plains Hospital.
In some cases, patients may need CT or MRI angiography or conventional angiography (use of x-rays and a special dye) to visualize the peripheral blood vessels.
Some patients with PVD benefit from lifestyle changes (better diet and exercise) and medication. Others need more intervention to relieve their symptoms. The surgeons of White Plains Hospital collaborate with interventional radiologists to perform minimally invasive angioplasty for select patients with PVD. During this procedure, a tube-like "stent" is advanced through a catheter inserted into an artery in the patient's groin. At the site of the narrowed blood vessel, a balloon is inflated to widen the opening inside the vessel, and the stent is deployed. The stent remains in the blood vessel permanently to provide scaffolding for the vessel and to act as a conduit through which blood can flow more easily. This procedure is performed at White Plains Hospital.
Some patients with PVD may require a bypass, in which a blood vessel from another part of the body is used to make an alternate path for blood to flow around a blocked artery. Synthetic grafts may also be used for this purpose. The surgeons of White Plains Hospital are highly skilled at performing this procedure.