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FAQ: Peripheral Vascular Disease


 

What is peripheral vascular disease?

A disease of the circulatory system outside of the brain or heart. One type of PVD is called peripheral artery disease. This is the buildup of plaque within the arteries of your legs. This disease can cause pain when walking because the muscles and tissues are not getting the blood flow they need.

Symptoms of peripheral artery disease

  • Pain in the lower extremities
  • Burning or tingling in the feet
  • Sores or breaks in the skin of the legs and feet
  • Loss of hair on feet or toes
  • Changes in skin color (reddish, blue or pale discoloration)
  • Decrease in skin temperature

How is peripheral artery disease diagnosed?

A series of tests may be done to measure how well blood flows through the arteries and to identify the areas of concern. The following tests may be done:

  1. Ankle-brachial index (ABI): This test is used to diagnose PAD of the lower legs. A special blood pressure cuff and ultrasound are used to complete this test. it compares the blood pressure measured at your ankle with the blood pressure of your arm. If the blood pressure that is measured at your ankle is much lower than the blood pressure of your arm, this may be a concern for blockage in the leg vessels.
  2. MRI: An image that shows blockage inside your arteries.
  3. Ultrasound; This uses high frequency waves to create an image that can help your physician evaluate blood flow and narrowing, or blockages in the blood vessel.
  4. CT. Uses special X-ray scan to make a detailed picture of the artery which can be helpful in detecting a blockage.

What is a peripheral angiogram?

This procedure is performed by an interventional physician, and a team of nurses and technicians to find out if you have disease (blockages) of the arteries in your legs. This procedure uses X-ray technology called fluoroscopy and contrast dye to obtain real time moving pictures of the blood flow in your arteries. These images can identify the exact location of your narrowed or blocked arteries.

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