Peripheral vascular disease

IRminigraphics_art.jpg  Peripheral Vascular Disease

The interventional radiologists at Suburban Imaging specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care of peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

What is peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?

PVD, also called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), affects 10 million men and women over age 50 in the U.S. PVD commonly results from atherosclerosis (ath-er-o-scle-ro-sis), a condition where arteries become narrowed or clogged, interfering with normal blood flow. Cholesterol and scar tissue build up, forming a substance called "plaque" that narrows or blocks the blood vessels.

Atherosclerosis (plaque build up) can occur in any blood vessel throughout the body, including the legs, kidneys, heart, neck and brain. When vascular disease affects the legs, the medical term is peripheral vascular disease because legs are located at the periphery (or end/edge) of the body.


What are the risk factors for peripheral vascular disease (PVD)?

You may be at risk for PVD if you have any of the following factors:

  • Age 50+
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Family history of heart or vascular disease, such as PVD, aneurysm, heart attack or stroke

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

Symptoms of vascular disease can interfere with your daily activities and also cause serious health concerns such as heart attack and stroke.

  • The most common symptom of PVD is intermittent claudication, which means pain or cramping in the legs when walking or exercising - with the pain going away when the activity stops

Other symptoms include:

  • Numbness, tingling and weakness in the lower legs and feet
  • Burning or aching pain in feet or toes when resting
  • Sore on leg or foot that won’t heal
  • Cold legs or feet
  • Color change in skin of legs or feet
  • Loss of hair on legs
  • Have pain in the legs or feet that awakens you at night

Questions? Call our IR nurse:
North Metro: 763.792.1980
South Metro: 952.345.4179

How is peripheral vascular disease (PVD) diagnosed?

PVD is generally diagnosed with an imaging exam. The most common test is an ABI (ankle-brachial index) ultrasound, which can be performed at Suburban Imaging.


During an ABI test, an ultrasound imaging technologist takes blood pressure readings from both arms and both ankles by using a blood pressure cuff and a special ultrasound stethoscope called a Doppler. The reading from the ankle is compared to the reading from the arm to determine how well blood is flowing.

If anything abnormal is detected, additional imaging like an MRI or CT (CAT scan) may be ordered.

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

In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to slow the progression of vascular disease. This includes:

  • eating a healthy diet
  • exercising
  • not smoking

In other cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication when lifestyle changes are not enough.

Interventional radiology treatments for peripheral vascular disease (PVD)

When lifestyle changes and medication are not enough, there are a number of ways that blocked blood vessels can be opened to restore normal blood flow. Your healthcare provider can give you a referral to meet with one of the Suburban Imaging interventional radiologists.

Treatments from an interventional radiologist are generally easier for patients than surgery:

roundcheck2.jpg no surgical incision

roundcheck2.jpg are less painful

roundcheck2.jpg shorter hospital stay – in most cases, patients are released on the same day of their procedure

By using modern interventional radiology techniques, medical procedures such as angiography, angioplasty and stenting can be performed without surgery. These minimally-invasive procedures will be performed by one of the interventional radiologists at the hospital.

To speak with our nurse about IR treatments for PVD, call:
North Metro: 763.792.1980
South Metro: 952.345.4179

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