Arterial Conditions, Procedures and Care
Experiencing Aching Legs? Meet the Best Vascular Specialists in Prescott
Dr. Matthew Dicker and Dr. Ben Paxton, our fellowship-trained interventional radiologists, perform arterial procedures in the Cardiac Catheterization (Cath) Lab at Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s West Campus in Prescott. Our physicians perform minimally-invasive endovascular procedures using image guidance, which helps our patients avoid more invasive surgeries.
The Diagnosis of Peripheral Arterial Disease and Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) are two names for the same disease process: a common circulation problem in which the arteries that carry blood to the legs or arms become narrowed or blocked. This interferes with the normal flow of blood, occasionally causing pain, but often causing no symptoms at all. The most common cause of PAD is atherosclerosis, often referred to as the ‘hardening of the arteries.’ Atherosclerosis is a gradual process in which cholesterol and scar tissue build up, forming a substance called ‘plaque’ that clogs the blood vessels. In some cases, PAD may be caused by blood clots that lodge in the arteries and restrict blood flow. Left untreated, this insufficient blood flow will lead to limb amputation in some patients. In atherosclerosis, the blood flow channel is constricted from the buildup of plaque, preventing blood from passing through as needed. This prevents oxygen and other nutrients from getting to normal tissue. The arteries also become rigid and less elastic and are less able to react to tissue demands for changes in blood flow.
Risk Factors for PAD/PVD:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
These factors may cause damage to the blood vessel wall, making the blood vessel prone to diffuse plaque deposits.
What are the symptoms of Peripheral Arterial Disease?
The most common symptom of PAD is called claudication, which is experienced through leg pain when walking or exercising and disappears when the person stops the activity.
Other symptoms of PAD include:
- Feet and lower leg pain numbness and tingling
- Coldness in the lower legs and feet
- Ulcers or sores on the legs or feet that don’t heal or are very slow to heal
Procedures for Patients with PAD or PVD
A peripheral angiogram is performed in the Cath Lab as an outpatient procedure. It is done to assess the degree of artery narrowing due to PVD, also known as PAD. During the angiogram, the vein doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) into the artery through a small nick in the skin about the size of a pencil tip. Contrast, also known as x-ray dye, is injected through the catheter to make the blood vessels visible on the live, real-time x-ray. Our doctors perform angiograms to see if there is a blockage or narrowing in a blood vessel that may interfere with normal blood flow. Generally, our interventional radiologists can treat a blocked blood vessel at the same time the angiogram is performed. There are several methods of treating the blockages, including angioplasty, stent placement, and atherectomy.
Procedures to Improve Blood Flow
One or more of these procedures is performed at the same time as peripheral angiogram. These procedures enlarge the size of the channel within the artery, which increases blood flow and may improve wound healing and reduce leg pain when walking (claudication) or at rest. Increased blood flow can also lessen the likelihood of future amputation.
Our Vascular Specialists Provide Effective Treatments for PAD and PVD
Peripheral Angioplasty and Arterial Stent Placement
After performing an angiogram and confirming a blockage, our interventional radiologist inserts a very small balloon attached to a thin catheter into the blocked artery through the same incision made for the angiogram. The catheter is threaded under x-ray guidance to the site of the blocked artery. The balloon is then inflated to open the artery. Once the artery is open, the balloon is removed. In some cases, it may be necessary to insert a stent as well. A stent is a small tubular metal scaffold that is placed across the blocked artery to keep it open and to increase blood flow. Our vascular specialists require checkup appointments with our patients to assess health and functionality after this procedure. We track stent procedures and monitor when a stent removal may be necessary.
Atherectomy involves removing the plaque that is blocking an artery by “shaving” it off from the inside of the arterial wall. Atherectomy can be performed at the same time as a peripheral angiogram.