Providence Saint Joseph has been named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Vascular Surgery from Healthgrades. This means the surgeons at Saint Joe’s achieve superior clinical outcomes in abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, carotid surgery and peripheral vascular bypass surgery.
Vascular surgeons are specialists who manage veins and arteries in every part of the body except the brain and the heart. They are highly trained to treat diseases of the vascular system. Your blood vessels—arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood and veins carrying blood back to the heart—are the roadways of your circulatory system. Without smoothly flowing blood, your body cannot function. Conditions such as hardening of the arteries can create “traffic jams” in your circulatory system, obstructing the flow of blood to any part of the body. Vascular surgeons are trained in everything: open, complicated surgery and in minimally invasive, endovascular procedures.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Carotid Artery Disease - Stroke
- Peripheral Artery Disease - Arteries in the legs and feet
- Venous Thromboembolism (DVT and PE)
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
An enlargement or “bulge” that develops in a weakened area within the largest artery in the abdomen. The pressure generated by each heartbeat pushes against the weakened aortic wall, causing the aneurysm to enlarge. If the AAA remains undetected, the aortic wall continues to weaken, and the aneurysm continues to grow. Eventually, the aneurysm becomes so large, and its wall so weak, that rupture occurs. When this happens there is massive internal bleeding, a situation that is usually fatal. The only way to break this cycle is to find the AAA before it ruptures. Every year, 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This condition can now almost always be treated in a minimally invasive manner often with local anesthesia and sedation by our vascular surgeons.
Carotid Artery Disease
Occurs when the main blood vessels to the brain develop a buildup of plaque caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When the degree of narrowing is more than 60 percent, individuals may benefit from several types of surgeries including: a carotid endarterectomy or carotid angioplasty and stenting. Without surgery and when the buildup becomes very severe, it can cause a stroke. A stroke occurs when part of the brain is damaged by these vascular problems; in fact, 80 percent of strokes are “ischemic strokes” where part of the circulation to the brain is cut off, usually due to blockages in the carotid arteries. The process is similar to the buildup of plaque in arteries in the heart that causes heart attacks. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Occurs when atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, causes a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues of the body. As these plaques worsen, they reduce essential blood flow to the limbs and can even cause complete blockages of the arteries. Early on, PAD may only cause difficulty walking, but in its most severe forms, it can cause painful foot ulcers, infections, and even gangrene, which could require amputation. If PAD is causing serious symptoms, surgical treatments such as balloon angioplasty, stent placement, or surgical bypass can be very effective in improving the blood flow to the affected leg. People with PAD are three times more likely to die of heart attacks or strokes than those without PAD.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE)
Ablood clot that starts in a vein. It is the third leading vascular diagnosis after heart attack and stroke, affecting about 300,000 - 600,000 Americans each year. There are two types:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - is a clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg, but sometimes in the arm or other veins. DVTs form in the legs when something slows or changes the flow of blood.
- Pulmonary embolism (PE) - occurs when a DVT clot breaks free from a vein wall, travels to the lungs and blocks some or all of the blood supply. Blood clots in the thigh are more likely to break off and travel to the lungs than blood clots in the lower leg or other parts of the body.
In some cases of very large clots causing limb or life threatening problems, highly specialized procedures are required to remove the clots. Saint Joe’s vascular surgeons specialize in these advanced treatments and have been able to offer limb sparing and life saving clot removal procedures for many patients.The most common triggers for DVT and PE are surgery, cancer, immobilization and hospitalization. In women, pregnancy and use of hormones like oral contraceptive or estrogen for menopause symptoms are also important. VTE is most common in adults 60 and older, but it can occur at any age.