In some cases, lifestyle changes including smoking cessation, a structured exercise program and a low-fat diet can stop the progress of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and manage the disease. Sometimes, medications including those that lower cholesterol or control high blood pressure are prescribed to treat PVD. For other individuals, procedures that open up clogged blood vessels are necessary.
Major surgery is sometimes required to remove blockages from arteries or to bypass the clogged area. These procedures are performed by vascular surgeons.
Interventional Radiology Offers New Options
Now, in many cases, interventional radiologists can open blocked or narrowed blood vessels caused by PVD and other conditions without major surgery using one of the following techniques:
In this technique, the interventional radiologist inserts a very small balloon attached to a thin catheter into a blood vessel through a small nick in the skin. The catheter is threaded under X-ray guidance to the site of the blocked artery. The balloon is then inflated to open the artery.
With this procedure, the interventional radiologist inserts a small metal tube called a stent to hold the blood vessel open.
If the blocked artery is caused by a blood clot, the interventional radiologist inserts thrombolytic (clot dissolving) drugs through a catheter to eliminate the clot and restore blood flow.
Benefits of Interventional Radiology
In most cases, these minimally invasive procedures do not require hospitalization or general anesthesia. There is no surgical incision—just a small nick in the skin—and no stitches are needed. Patients may return to normal activity shortly after the procedure.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.