Things You
Should Know

Here at the Vascular Institute of Chattanooga, we take pride in not only treating patients,
but educating them. We believe that understanding your diagnosis and the
factors that affect your health in every aspect.

Vascular Surgery

Vascular surgery consists of procedures or techniques to correct blood vessels outside of the heart and brain that may be narrowed, blocked or dilated. Vascular surgery is the open surgical treatment of diseases of the Carotid, Aortic, Mesenteric, Renal, or Peripheral arteries.  These techniques require surgery to correct the problems, often under general anesthesia.

The vascular surgeon of today must complete a rigorous 1-2 year fellowship, following a general surgery residency, in order to be considered a vascular surgeon.  During the fellowship period, there is extensive training on all aspects of vascular procedures, as well as, a specific focus on the non-invasive and minimally invasive endovascular techniques.

Endovascular surgery

An alternative to traditional open surgery, endovascular surgery is an innovative, less invasive procedure that offers advantages such as small incisions, shorter hospital stay, less pain and quicker return to normal activities. However, endovascular surgery is not always feasible in all patients, so be sure to discuss this with your physician.

An endovascular surgeon is a vascular surgeon with additional training in minimally invasive techniques to treat vascular problems from within the arteries or veins.  Oftentimes, these procedures can be completed as outpatients procedures.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

A common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs. When you develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), your extremities — usually your legs — don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand of walking. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (claudication), or weakness that can lead to falling.

Endovenous Laser Therapy

EVLT stands for Endovenous Laser Treatment.  EVLT is a revolutionary new treatment used for significant varicose veins that previously were only effectively treated by ligation and removal.

EVLT is an outpatient procedure that involves ultrasound waves to identify the source of major varicose veins. The vein is collapsed using laser energy delivered from a thin laser fiber placed within the specific vein. The length of the vein is frozen with a local anesthetic to eliminate discomfort and protect surrounding tissues from excess laser heat. The procedure can take between 20 to 45 minutes to perform, and patients have been known to return to work in two days.

Venaseal

The latest cutting edge treatment is for varicose veins is VenaSeal Closure System, which improves blood flow and relieves symptoms by sealing–or closing–the diseased vein. The system delivers a small amount of a specially formulated medical adhesive to the diseased vein. The adhesive permanently seals the vein and blood is rerouted through nearby healthy veins. Patients have no pain, very little downtime, and returns to their daily life almost immediately.

Varicose Veins

A condition where the blood flow from the leg to the upper part of the body is prevented due to incompetent valves, which causes the blood flow to reverse directions and result in varicose veins.

Claudication

An aching, crampy, tired, and sometimes burning pain in the legs that comes and goes -- it typically occurs with walking and goes away with rest -- due to poor circulation of blood in the arteries of the legs. In very severe claudication, the pain is also felt while at rest.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Nerve damage in the feet or lower legs.  Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy. When the nerves in the feet are damaged, they no longer warn about pain or discomfort. This can lead to accidental injury to the foot. In diabetics, foot wounds are the major reason for limb loss in the United States.

Foot Ulcer

An open sore on the foot.  It can be a shallow red crater that involves the surface of the skin, or a very deep crater, involving tendons, bones and other deep structures.

Foot Ulcers that become infected can develop into:

  • An abscess (a pocket of pus)

  • A spreading infection of the skin and underyling fat (cellulitis)

  • A bone infection (osteomyelitis)

  • Gangrene

Gangrene

Gangrene refers to dead or dying body tissue(s) that occur because of inadequate blood supply. Atherosclerosis or diabetes increase the chance of gangrene. Treatment usually includes surgery to eliminate tissue which is dead, use of antibiotics as well as other treatments. Recovery prognosis is good when the gangrene is recognized early and treated quickly.

Signs & Symptoms to look for include:

  • A black or blue discoloration of the skin

  • Numb feeling proceeded by pain that is severe

  • Discharge which is foul-smelling which leaks from the wound or sore.

Carotid Artery Disease (CAD)

Carotid artery disease occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked.  These arteries supply your brain with blood.  The carotid arteries extend from your aorta in your chest to the brain inside your skull.
As you age a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue. As more plaque builds up, your arteries narrow and stiffen, leading to a process called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.  A blocked carotid artery is a major risk for stroke.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

When the wall of a blood vessel weakens, a balloon-like dilation called an aneurysm sometimes develops. This happens most often in the abdominal aorta, an essential blood vessel that supplies blood to your legs.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh. If the vein swells, the condition is called thrombophlebitis. A deep vein thrombosis can break loose and cause a serious problem in the lung, called a pulmonary embolism.

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