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Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center’s experienced interventional radiologists and vascular specialists work to provide early diagnoses of peripheral vascular disease (PVD). For patients who require treatment, we take a multidisciplinary approach to offer the latest techniques to help ease symptoms.

About Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Peripheral vascular disease, or PVD, is a circulation disorder in which the legs, feet, and other parts of the body do not receive enough blood flow. Although many individuals with PVD do not have symptoms, others experience painful cramping that impacts their quality of life. 

PVD is often characterized by a narrowing of the vessels that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles. 

With the help of a UT Southwestern vascular surgeon, the accumulation of plaque in blood vessels can be removed, stented, or bypassed, allowing patients with PVD to achieve a renewed state of health. 

Our vascular surgeons are specialists in treating all forms of PVD. 

Early Intervention for PVD

Approximately half the individuals diagnosed with PVD are symptom-free. For those experiencing symptoms, the most common symptom is leg discomfort described as painful cramping that occurs with exercise and is relieved by rest. The pain disappears during rest because the muscles need less blood flow. Pain can occur in one or both legs, depending on the location of the clogged or narrowed artery. 

Early diagnosis can help patients make the lifestyle changes to help with PVD symptoms. Early diagnosis also helps patients avoid serious complications of PVD, which can include:

  • Amputation
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Loss of mobility
  • Stroke 

Diagnosis

We diagnose PVD by carefully evaluating an individual’s medical history and using advanced imaging techniques for assessment. These include:

Once PVD is diagnosed, we will recommend medication and lifestyle changes to help the patient minimize risk for a heart attack or stroke. 

Treatment for Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

If medication or lifestyle changes are not sufficient to control PVD, a specialist will recommend an angioplasty treatment or surgical procedure. 

By assessing the amount of plaque buildup that could be occurring in a patient’s blood vessels, our surgeons can determine whether he or she is a good candidate for a stent or a balloon angioplasty. These procedures are performed through the skin (percutaneously) and do not require an incision. 

Depending on the patient’s specific condition, sometimes a bypass of the blockage is necessary. Our surgeons are experts at both minimally invasive procedures and open surgical techniques for all categories of PVD, including:

  • Claudication (pain with walking)
  • Rest pain (pain at rest)
  • Gangrene or ulceration (critical limb ischemia)

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