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Early Detection and Treatment of PAD
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also called peripheral vascular disease (PVD), is not a familiar term, yet it affects 8-12 million Americans. PAD is linked with higher risk for heart attack and stroke as well as abdominal aortic aneurysms.
Learning about PAD diseases could save your life. At Vanderbilt, we are committed identifying and treating PAD early on.
Your doctor may use several techniques to diagnose PAD, including:
An ultrasound of the leg, abdomen, carotid or renal arteries can find blockages and measure arterial blood flow. This is a non-invasive test that involves touching a probe on the skin to sense the flow of blood in the artery beneath.
ABI (Ankle-Brachial Index)
ABI is a non-invasive way to diagnose PAD. Blood pressure is taken in the arms and ankles using a Doppler device and a blood pressure cuff. The patient may walk briefly on the treadmill and have readings taken before exercise and right after. The blood pressure measurements are compared and used to see if an artery might be blocked.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is an imaging technique that uses magnets and radio waves to take very clear pictures of the heart and blood vessels. An MRI scan helps your doctor diagnose your condition accurately to find the best course of treatment.
An arteriogram (also known as an angiogram) uses a catheter and dye (or contrast) to create a picture of the arteries. The angiogram helps your doctor find and assess blockages in the arteries.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these treatment options.
Medicine: Medicine may be used alone or with other options such as surgery or stents. While drugs can't stop arteries from narrowing, they can help improve blood flow and reduce symptoms such as chest pain, leg pain, hypertension and risk of heart attack or stroke.
Angioplasty: This technique can reduce the narrowing of arteries without surgery. A thin tube (catheter) with a small balloon on the end is put into the artery. The balloon inflates, opening the artery. The balloon is then deflated and removed from the artery. A stent, or reinforcing tube is often placed in the artery to keep the artery open.
Carotid Endarterectomy: Surgeons make a small cut in the side of the neck where the blockage is (generally just below the jaw line), into the carotid artery. The plaque and diseased part of the artery is removed and the artery is sewn back together to allow blood flow to the brain.
Carotid Artery Stenting: This is a nonsurgical procedure done in a catheterization lab or surgical suite. A small puncture is made in the artery in the groin area where catheters and wires are inserted. The catheters and wires are used to place stents in the carotid artery.