Amputation and Angioplasty
The vascular system provides blood throughout the whole body. The vascular system is made of blood vessels. Capillaries, veins, and arteries all carry blood throughout the body. Peripheral vascular disease can affect any of these blood vessels. The arteries are affected the most and create the most pain. Arteries are the largest of the blood vessels. Peripheral vascular disease is typically called peripheral artery disease. The arteries located in the arms, legs and other organs are affected by peripheral artery disease. Any arteries away from the heart and lungs are susceptible to the disease.
Atherosclerosis typically causes peripheral artery disease. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the artery. When plaque builds up in the artery, it narrows the artery. A bad diet most often causes plaque build up. There are two main types of peripheral artery disease: functional and organic. Functional peripheral artery disease is a result of spasms in the artery. It is a temporary condition and does not usually need treatment. Organic peripheral artery disease is a change in the structure of the artery. The change may be due to inflammation, injury or blockage. Most often than not, a blockage is the problem.
Peripheral artery disease can be treated in different ways. Amputation was the first method of treatment. Amputation is the removal of the extremities. It is done either on the arms or legs. Removal of the arms and legs causes a lot of problems both emotionally and physically. It is very difficult getting used to living without all your extremities. Emotionally it can lead to depression and other problems. It is something that cannot be reversed. The only good thing about amputation is that there is no risk of the problem happening again. If you get rid of the peripheral extremities, they can no longer be affected by peripheral artery disease.
Angioplasty is a great alternative to amputation. Angioplasty takes care of the problem before it gets to the point of the need for amputation. Angioplasty is a procedure that requires the use of a tiny balloon. The doctor inserts a tube into the blood vessel that is narrowing and expands it with a balloon. The expansion pushes the plaque against the artery wall to open it up. Blood is then able to flow through the artery and provide the other structures with the blood and oxygen it needs. Sometimes a mesh tube is placed inside the artery to keep the artery open. This method of angioplasty is also very effective. Angioplasty has initially been used for coronary artery disease. In coronary artery disease, there is a narrowing or blockage that hinders blood flow to the heart. If angioplasty works for coronary artery disease, it should also work for peripheral artery disease.
Pros & Cons
There are pros and cons to both forms of treatment. Angioplasty is great because it is an easier method of treatment and not as invasive as amputation. The recovery process is better and after recovery, you can go back to your normal activities. The downside to angioplasty is that it may have to be done again. It may not completely cure the problem, especially if you do not change the habits causing peripheral artery disease. Amputation is pretty much a cure for peripheral artery disease. Once your leg or arm is amputated, you will not have to do it all over again unless the disease affects another extremity. Once peripheral artery disease leads to tissue death, amputation is the only treatment. When the tissues cannot get the oxygen and blood it needs over a long period, it will die. Tissue death is not reversible. It is best to get an early diagnosis of peripheral artery disease so that you can have a wider range of treatment options. Waiting until you cannot use your extremities anymore almost always leads to amputation.
Angioplasty and amputation have their strengths and weaknesses, but they are both effective in treating peripheral artery disease. If you are suffering from peripheral artery disease, you should talk with a physician right away. Do not ignore the signs of pain and numbness in the extremities. If the doctor can diagnose the problem early, you will be able to avoid amputation. Hopefully, science progresses to the point tissue regeneration allows for the growth of new extremities. This will change the effects of amputation and provide even greater methods of treatment.
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