Vascular surgery refers to a number of procedures used to treat the blood vessels or arteries of the body (as opposed to the blood vessels of the heart, the coronary arteries). Vascular surgery is performed to restore blood flow to an area of the body that has been damaged by injury, disease, or problems with the blood vessels. Commonly, blood flow through the peripheral arteries is slowed or blocked due to thickening (called atherosclerosis) caused by buildup of fatty deposits, or plaque, over many years. In severe cases, this can lead to tissue death (gangrene) in the legs. Atherosclerosis can also affect the carotid arteries leading to the brain, increasing the risk of stroke.
Once arterial thickening has advanced to the degree that patients are disabled or have limb-threatening or life-threatening blockages, vascular surgery is required. In other patients, vascular surgery may be recommended to prevent tissue damage and to relieve painful symptoms.
There are several kinds of vascular surgery used as part of artery disease treatment. Depending on a patient's degree of symptoms, overall medical status, and anatomy of their arterial blockages, vascular surgery procedures may include:
- Balloon angioplasty, which is minimally invasive surgery in which a catheter with a small balloon is moved through blood vessels to a blocked artery where the balloon is then inflated to flatten the plaque and improve blood flow; the balloon is then deflated and removed from the body
- Stent placement, in which a mesh tube is inserted into a blood vessel to keep the artery open; stents are put in place during angioplasty surgery
- Open bypass surgery, which is performed to restore circulation to the lower leg and foot and may be required when blockages are diffuse or severe
- Carotid endarterectomy, which is performed to improve blood flow through the carotid arteries by removing the plaque from inside the diseased artery
The Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital provides patients with a world-class facility and expert physicians for comprehensive cardiovascular care, including vascular surgery and coronary disease surgery.
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Brigham and Women's hospital: state-of the art vascular surgery.
As one of the top cardiovascular care centers in the country, the Shapiro Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital provides world-class vascular surgery and other cardiovascular treatment. Specialists at the Center provide state-of-the art techniques of vascular surgery for the treatment of peripheral arterial disease as well as surgery for coronary artery disease treatment. The Center also has a Vascular Disease Prevention Program, including a robust lineup of basic and clinical research activities focused preventing the progression of peripheral artery disease.
Brigham and Women's Hospital is not only in leading provider of cardiovascular care but a renowned research institution as well. From the world's first successful mitral valve repair operation to the first heart transplant performed in New England, Brigham and Women's Hospital has been leading efforts to develop new and innovative therapies for cardiovascular disease for nearly a century, including vascular surgery.
Learn more about vascular surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and other services available at the Heart & Vascular Center.