Plaque can build up in the leg arteries over many years, which is known as "peripheral vascular disease". This plaque can eventually obstruct the blood flow to the leg. Often the first symptom of this is pain in the calf, thigh or buttock muscles with walking, which is known as claudication. If the blockages are severe enough, then pain may start to occur in the foot even when resting, or wounds may not be able to heal and ulcers or gangrene may develop.
Treatment includes addressing cardiovascular risk factors (such as smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure) to help prevent further plaque formation and reduce the future risk of heart attack and stroke. Regular walking is encouraged if possible to help maintain blood flow. Treatments to unblock or bypass the blockages may be considered if the leg pain is impacting lifestyle, or more urgently if ulcers have developed.
Dr Magee has a special interest in the minimally invasive treatment of blocked leg arteries, utilising balloons, stents and other modern technology and techniques to restore blood flow where possible. This is complemented by the full range of open surgical options where more appropriate.
- Angioplasty (ballooning) and stenting
- Atherectomy (keyhole plaque removal)
- Complex endovascular reconstructions
- Endarterectomy (plaque removal)
- Bypass surgery
- "Hybrid" surgery (synchronous open surgery and stenting)
- Medical and exercise therapy
Stent insertion video
This video animation shows the process of opening blocked arteries using a Zilver PTX Drug-Eluting Stent
Permission for use granted by Cook Medical, Bloomington, Indiana.
Atherectomy is a minimally invasive cardiovascular surgery. The procedural purpose is to remove atherosclerosis from blood vessels within the human body.
As we grow older, plaque can build up in leg arteries, obstructing blood flow within the leg. This can cause pain in the leg muscles with walking, known as “claudication”. This leads to a need to continually stop and rest when walking distances, which can result in significant impacts on lifestyle. Travelling, sports, or even enjoying a walk on the beach can become very difficult. In very severe cases, and it can even make day to day activities like doing the shopping or mowing the lawn very challenging. It can also potentially result in problems with healing, leading to ulcers or gangrene.
During an Atherectomy procedure, a specialised device is inserted into the blocked leg artery via a needle in the groin artery. This device has a tiny cutting tip that is used to gently shave away layers of plaque from the artery walls. This opens the artery up and promotes healthy blood flow. Read more