The surgical approach to vascular disease is intended to either open up diseased arteries or to bypass them with new ones. An open surgical procedure (
) is the traditional approach.
Less invasive techniques, such as
, use long, thin instruments that are passed through blood vessels. This approach is gaining in popularity.
Endarterectomy and Bypass Grafting
Depending on where and how severe the blockage is, the vascular surgeon has two choices:
Clean out the artery by removing the diseased inner lining (endarterectomy)
Hook a bypass to a healthy section above and a healthy section below the diseased portion
Bypasses can be constructed from artificial Dacron tubing or a vein taken from your leg or some other convenient location.
This procedure allows doctors to approach your diseased arteries from the inside via "real time" x-rays and high-tech instruments. These instruments can be passed through your blood vessels. Starting with an easily accessed artery—most likely in the groin—the doctor will thread long, thin instruments into the vessel under x-ray guidance until it reaches the problem area. There, several possible techniques can be used to open up the diseased or clogged part of the artery.
Once the instruments have reached the target site, the physician may elect to insert a tapered dilator or balloon into the narrowing to stretch it out. Alternatively, a laser may be used to burn through the plaque and open up the artery. Other alternatives include injecting clot dissolving chemicals directly into the blocked artery or removing a clot with special instruments. A rigid "stent" may be inserted to keep the artery open.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a