The two reasons that we intervene to improve the blood supply to the legs is for walking pains and to prevent an amputation. Pain with walking can be due to a number of causes – circulation and arthritis of the spine are the two most common. If it is determined that walking pain, or intermittent claudication, is due to arterial blockages your vascular surgeon can help you decide whether the risk of treatment is warranted. In the past, bypass surgery was the only option. Now angioplasty has replaced surgery for many patients with intermittent claudication. The results of angioplasty, or ballooning, of the artery are dependent on the location and the length of the blockage. Angioplasty of the iliac arteries (above the groin) has nearly the same success as surgery, if the blockage is localized. Angioplasties below the groin have about a 50% rate of success one year after the procedure. Drug coated balloons and the latest stents are a newer technology that we employ to improve those rates.
Patients who are at risk for losing their legs because of poor circulation and non-healing wounds of the feet frequently have multiple, long blockages. Occasionally an angioplasty alone may be sufficient to heal a wound. The physicians of VSA can provide the broad spectrum of open or endovascular therapy depending on the needs of the patient.