Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

What is peripheral vascular disease (also known as Leg Artery Disease)?
Plaque, a wax-like material made up largely of cholesterol, can accumulate on the inside walls of arteries. The build-up narrows the arteries, decreasing blood flow through these vessels. When narrowing occurs in the arteries of the legs and feet, less blood reaches those muscles and tissues, a condition commonly called peripheral vascular disease (PVD), or poor circulation.

What are the risk factors for peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?
Risk factors include a family history of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use, renal disease, high cholesterol, and advanced age.

Leg Artery Disease

What are the symptoms of peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?
Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the calves, thighs, hips or buttocks while walking
  • Pain in the feet when at rest
  • Numbness, coldness or pain in the legs and feet
  • Non-healing wounds or skin ulcers / gangrene tissue

How is peripheral vascular disease (PVD) diagnosed?
To determine if there is a reduction in blood flow to the leg, the doctor conducts a blood pressure test in the office, called an ankle brachial index, which compares blood pressure in the ankle to that in the arm. In addition, noninvasive arterial or venous duplex ultrasound tests help reveal the location and extent of arterial narrowing. CT or MRI can also be used to further determine the extent of the disease prior to intervention. Finally, an angiogram is also used with intention to treat, letting a physician diagnose a condition with an angiogram and treat it at same time.

What are the treatment options for peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?


  • Balloon Angioplasty: A tiny balloon guided into the blocked artery inflates, pushing plaque to walls and increasing blood flow.
  • Stenting: Guided into the blocked artery, a leave-behind metal tube (stent) keeps the vessel wide open.
  • Atherectomy (Roto-Rooter): The physical removal of plaque and other debris blocking the artery.
  • Cryoplasty: A tiny balloon placed into the blocked artery inflates and freezes the area, opening the vessel and making future blockage less likely.
  • Laser Atherectomy: Led by a catheter to the blockage in an artery, a laser vaporizes plaque found in the artery.


  • Open Leg Bypass: In cases of severe leg artery disease or when minimally invasive options have failed, bypass surgery is necessary. This redirects blood through a special grafted blood vessel–one that is surgically attached–so blood "bypasses" or avoids the constricted blood vessel and flows normally through the leg.
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