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Lower Extremity Arterial Insufficiency, or Peripheral Arterial Disease (AKA Blocked Leg Arteries)

The physicians of Pennsylvania Vascular Associates are experts in treating blocked leg arteries in Philadelphia, PA.

Blocked leg arteries occur when plaque (fatty, calcified deposits) builds up in the arteries to the legs or in the legs, these arteries become narrowed or blocked and blood flow decreases. Since less oxygen travels to the muscles and skin, symptoms of muscle aching or skin breakdown in the toes can occur.

Signs and symptoms of Blocked Leg Arteries

Signs and Symptoms of decreased blood flow to the legs will depend on the location of the arteries involved and the extent of the narrowing. You may experience pain in the buttocks, thighs, or calves when walking which is relieved by rest. This muscle aching that occurs with exercise or walking is called intermittent claudication.

If the blockages are very severe, pain or numbness in your toes or end of the feet may occur while you are at rest, usually at night while sleeping. Rest pain occurs because not enough oxygen rich blood gets to your feet. The type of pain will worsen when your legs are elevated (sleeping in bed) and can be relieved when you lower them. Very severe blockages can cause sores or ulcers, or even gangrene, of the toes or feet.

Diagnosis of Blocked Leg Arteries

After evaluating a patient, studies can be performed in our accredited non-invasive vascular laboratory in our office, usually the same day as the vascular specialist is seen. These tests include pulse volume recordings (PVRs) and segmental pressures, and duplex ultrasound of the arterial blood supply to the legs. These studies tell us how bad the circulation is but also tell us where the blockage is. Because of the high quality of our laboratory, we do not need CT angiograms or MRAs to confirm our findings.

Treatment for Blocked Leg Arteries

Since our vascular specialists offer all and any types of treatment, we can offer medical management, minimally invasive treatment, or open surgery. No other specialists can offer these possibilites except vascular surgeons such as ours. Aching with walking, or claudication, may be treated with medication but it helps only about half the people who try it. Our vascular specialists may be able to open the blockages with minimially invasive procedures such as balloon angioplasty, stents, or stent grafts on an out-patient basis. If the blockage is long, surgery such as a leg bypass can correct the problem. Before any surgery, we always want to be sure your heart is strong enough for surgery, since if someone has blocked arteries in the legs, they may have blocked arteries in the heart. We can always arrange for a heart specialist, or cardiologist, to see you the same day as the vascular specialist sees you, to be sure your heart is strong enough.