Peripheral Vascular Disease Treatments

Appropriate treatment of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and peripheral artery disease (PAD) is necessary to control the symptoms, such as pain or swelling, and to halt the disease’s progression. Left untreated, PVD and PAD can lead to loss of limb and other complications, including death.

Aggressive treatment of existing conditions that may aggravate PVD, such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia or elevated blood cholesterol. Your Northwestern Medicine vascular team will assess your current condition and determine the best course of treatment, which may include:

  • Lifestyle modifications: Such as regular exercise, proper nutrition and smoking cessation to help minimize your risk.
  • Medications: Medications for improving blood flow, such as antiplatelet agents (blood thinners) and medications that relax the blood vessel walls.
  • Angioplasty: A catheter or long hollow tube creates a larger opening in an artery to increase blood flow. There are several types of angioplasty procedures, including:
    • Balloon angioplasty: A small balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area.
    • Atherectomy: The blocked area inside the artery is "shaved" away by a tiny device on the end of a catheter. 
    • Laser angioplasty: A laser is used to "vaporize" the blockage in the artery.
  • Stenting: A tiny coil is expanded and left inside the artery to open the blocked area.
  • Vascular surgery: A blood vessel from another part of the body or a tube made of synthetic material is placed in the area of the blocked or narrowed artery to reroute the blood flow (bypass). 

With both angioplasty and vascular surgery, the surgeon may perform an angiogram prior to the procedure to determine the exact location of the blockage.

Minimally invasive techniques

Vascular surgeons provide surgical and nonsurgical care for diseases of the veins, lymphatic vessels and arteries. You can take advantage of a full range of services available at Northwestern Medicine (including minimally invasive techniques, when appropriate) if you suffer from:

  • Claudication (pain when walking due to arterial blockage)
  • Leg ulcers related to poor circulation
  • Carotid artery disease that could lead to stroke
  • Aortic aneurysm and other arterial aneurysms
  • Varicose veins and other vein disease, including blood clots
  • Leg swelling due to venous and lymphatic disease
  • Kidney failure requiring hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis
  • Any condition requiring noninvasive vascular testing

Meet the Peripheral Vascular Disease Team

Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is a nationally recognized destination for those who require highly specialized cardiovascular care.