Vascular treatment is a term that refers to the wide range of treatments for vascular conditions. The good news is that there are many vascular conditions that are quite manageable if you see a physician early on in the disease. Vascular surgery and procedures are constantly improving with the technology of the day. Sometimes no surgery is necessary to correct your vascular conditions. In the early stages of peripheral artery disorders, the prescription was to take regular walks. Some other treatments for vascular conditions includes, amputation, cartoid endarterectomy, catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy, and diabetic foot care.
Sometimes the removal of one of your limbs or a part of one of your extremities is necessary when alternative treatments are not available or have failed. If you have an advanced case of peripheral arterial disease that has caused a build-up of plaque, and this blockage prevents blood from flowing to a limb or extremity, you are at a particularly high risk for requiring an amputation. This procedure happens in an operating room, and you will be put to sleep under general anesthesia. Once you are asleep, a urinary catheter will be placed, and your affected extremity will be prepped with an antiseptic solution and sterilely draped. Your surgeon will make an incision that allows for enough healthy tissue to cover and protect the stump. Then, your limb or extremity is removed, and the stump is closed. An internal drain may be placed to collect fluid or blood temporarily. The risks of an amputation are bleeding and infection, blood clots, poor wound healing, and phantom pains. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for an amputation, including which medications you should take on the morning of the surgery. Starting six hours before your surgery or at midnight the night before surgery, you will need to refrain from eating or drinking anything. Your daily morning medications should be taken with a sip of water.
A surgical procedure that is for opening or cleaning your carotid artery. Its goal is to prevent a stroke from happening. It is not a cure for blockages, which could still accumulate again although it is rare. If you have a moderate (50%-79%) blockage of a carotid artery and are experiencing strokes, mini-strokes, or transient ischemic attacks, your vascular surgeon may recommend a carotid endarterectomy. A carotid endarterectomy is performed in a sterile surgical environment. Depending on your medical condition, you may be able to go home on the same day as the procedure, or be required to stay for one or two nights afterward. During the procedure, you will receive a local or general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make an incision at the front of your neck and will remove the plaque from your carotid artery, then repair it by stitching in a natural graft (made of a piece of vein from somewhere else in your body) or a woven patch. The incision is closed, and you are left to recover. The risks of having a carotid endarterectomy include stroke, heart attack, and nerve damage that affects your voice box, tongue, or back. To prepare for your carotid endarterectomy, you should discuss your condition with your family members and ask your surgeon whether you should continue or change the medications you are currently taking.
Catheter-Directed Thrombolytic Therapy
This is a type of nonsurgical treatment that is used to dissolve blood clots. These blood clots will typically show up in your thigh, leg, or pelvis but are capable of traveling through your blood vessels. Catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy is the typical treatment for acute deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If a DVT travels through your blood vessels to your lungs it will result in a pulmonary embolism, a serious condition that causes shortness of breath, chest pain, and eve n death. A catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy session may be your next logical step if blood-thinning medications can’t dissolve a deep-vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism in your body. It is known to relieve the pain, swelling, and other symptoms associated with these conditions. It can also minimize the damage inside your vein, which leads to leaky valves and swelling, and prevents damage to the skin and the formation of sores that resist healing. Catheter-directed thrombolytic therapy is performed in a radiology suite or catheterization lab. Doctors and nurses work together as a team and insert a thin plastic tube that delivers clot-dissolving medications called thrombolytics directly to the clot.
Diabetic Foot Care
If you have diabetes, complications from this disease can put you at risk for needing amputation of a foot or leg. Diabetic foot care is a simple list of things you can do each day to protect your feet against wounds and avoid amputation. Your feet go through a lot of stress each day. If you have diabetes, you have nerve damage, decreased circulation, joint and bone abnormalities, and high sugar levels all contribute to loss of feeling, weakened skin and tissues, deformities, and vulnerability to infection. These three simple components for proper diabetic foot care can help you protect your feet from wounds:
- Caring for Skin and Nails: Wash your feet with mild soap daily. Dry them gently and apply lotion to avoid dry or cracked skin. Trim your toenails when they are wet and trim them straight across, avoiding skin or cuticles. Never walk barefoot anywhere and avoid extreme heat of any kind.
- Daily Inspections: Make checking your feet a part of your daily routine. Look for wounds on the top and bottom of each foot, as well as on and between your toes. Check the ball of each foot, and if you notice any scrapes, discolored areas, cuts, or calluses, notify your doctor.
- Proper Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes that don’t cause increased pressure on your bony areas.
Your doctor or vascular specialist is there to answer any questions you may have about vascular treatments. Remember that you have lots of options available to you, and it is never too early to get checked for conditions that affect your precious blood vessels.
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