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Vascular & Endovascular Disease FAQ

What is an aneurysm and how does it form?

An aneurysm occurs when the wall of an artery becomes weakened and pressure within the vessel causes the wall to bulge outward.

Most aneurysms indicate atherosclerosis and occur in a limited number of locations, such as the abdominal aorta (the main artery in the center of the abdomen), the groin and the vessels behind the knee.

In some cases, inherited factors may cause an aneurysm.

What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an abnormal expansion of the aorta, the largest artery in the body, located in abdomen. As the aortic wall weakens, it eventually starts to bulge.

Aortic abdominal aneurysms usually develop slowly and often cause no symptoms. However, a rupture of the abdominal aorta is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate treatment by experienced surgeons.

What is endovascular surgery?

Endovascular surgery is the treatment of vascular disease from within the blood vessel (endoluminal).

Advanced technology has made minimally invasive endovascular surgical procedures possible for many patients, including:

  • Angioplasty
  • Aortic stent grafts
  • Clot removal therapy
  • Stenting for iliac and renal arteries

What is peripheral vascular disease?

Peripheral vascular disease (PAD) affects the blood vessels outside the heart and brain, often by narrowing the vessels that carry blood to leg and arm muscles.

Organic peripheral vascular disease is caused by structural changes in the blood vessels (such as inflammation and tissue damage). Peripheral artery disease, for example, is caused by atherosclerosis.

Functional peripheral vascular diseases, which do not involve defects in blood vessel structure, are usually short-term conditions with temporary effects. Raynaud’s disease, for example, can be triggered by cold temperatures, emotional stress, working with vibrating machinery or smoking.

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins are a form of vascular disease, but the causes and consequences of varicose veins are very different from peripheral arterial disease and the two conditions are unrelated.

Varicose veins can be caused by a blockage of blood flow in a vein due to prior inflammation. More often they are caused by a malfunction of venous valves that return blood to the heart. When one or more of these valves malfunctions, blood can flow back down these veins—in the wrong direction.

Over time, the added pressure of blood flow causes the veins to stretch, bulge and become visible. The excess pressure may also stretch the tiny capillary branches of the veins with blood, producing spider veins and purple discoloration of the skin.

Can varicose veins come back after a stripping surgery?

Yes, but not all patients see a return of their varicose veins.

Talk to your vascular surgeon about the risks and benefits of varicose vein surgery. Generally, if patients are having significant symptoms or related ulcers, the benefits outweigh the risks.

What is a carotid endartectomy?

In a carotid endartectomy, a surgeon removes plaque that has built up in the carotid arteries found along the sides of the neck.

When performed by an experienced vascular surgeon, the procedure takes about an hour and a patient is usually hospitalized overnight. Patients usually are able to resume normal activities within six weeks.

Questions? Please contact the vascular and endovascular surgery team at 714-456-6699.

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