PATIENT INFORMATION - Conditions Treated
Atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries" can cause problems in the legs and feet including pain when walking (intermittent claudication) and ulcers. Treatment traditionally involved bypass surgery but increasingly today balloon angioplasty and stenting are performed.
Abnormal veins can cause aching, swelling, blood clots, rashes and ulcers with loss of skin from the legs. Ultrasound scanning is used to determine the extent of the disease. Treatment options include wearing firm stockings, injection sclerotherapy, surgical stripping and endovenous laser therapy.
As is the case in other parts of the circulation, the blood supply to the digestive tract (mesenteric circulation) and kidneys (renal circulation) can be compromised related to narrowing of the arteries. Some patients will benefit from balloon angioplasty and stenting.
Patients whose kidneys stop working properly may require dialysis. In order to supply blood to an artificial kidney venous catheter can be used. Alternatively a better solution is to create an arteriovenous fistula. Fistulas require ongoing surveillance in order to prevent them blocking.
As the nerves and vessels travel from the neck and chest out into the arm they can become compressed in the thoracic outlet. This is the space under the clavicle and on top of the first rib. Surgery to create more room for these structures can relieve problems related to compression.
Clots in the legs can cause swelling and in some people they will travel to the lung causing potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. Treatment options include thinning the blood with injections or tablets, directly dissolving the clot or placing a filter in the vena cava to prevent pulmonary embolism.
Poor circulation can cause loss of skin on the leg or foot. Dressings and antibiotics are often not enough to achieve healing. A thorough assessment of the circulation and treatment to address the underlying cause of the ulcer may assist with healing in patients with arterial and venous disease.
Patients with diabetes can develop problems with circulation, the nerves and the immune system. This puts them at risk of developing wounds and infection in the feet. Appropriate foot care can prevent problems. Some patients will however require procedures to improve the circulation.