Peripheral Arterial Disease - Popular treatment may not be the most reliable

Oct 19, 2015, 12:46 ET from Society for Vascular Surgery

CHICAGO, Oct. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to recent estimates, more than 200 million people around the world suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease.

PAD occurs when the arteries in the legs become clogged with plaque and the legs do not receive enough blood or oxygen. People who smoke, have diabetes, have high cholesterol or are over age 70 are especially at risk for developing the disease. Those with PAD may notice pain when they walk, but may not experience any symptoms at all. 

The advanced version of this illness is critical limb ischemia, which may cause pain in the feet or toes, foot sores, ulcers and eventually gangrene. In far too many cases, patients face amputation, which causes further deterioration in their health, said Dr. Bruce A. Perler, M.D., president of the Society for Vascular Surgery.

When arteries need surgery, there are two options: 

  • Traditional open surgery in which the vascular surgeon performs a bypass around the blockage
  • Minimally invasive therapy in which balloons or stents are used to prop open the blocked artery

In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the use of minimally invasive treatments. The procedure is simpler and recovery time is generally faster. However, in a new study just released by the American Heart Association, researchers found that within a few years, 30 to 50 percent of patients who had undergone the minimally invasive endovascular surgery for critical limb ischemia had to endure another procedure. 

Overall, the study found that the popular endovascular treatment for PAD stenting had many more problems down the road than traditional open surgery. This study adds weight to concerns that too many patients and physicians opt for non-invasive endovascular stenting procedures that have short term advantages, even though that approach may not consistently lead to better outcomes in the long-term, said Perler.

"Will the lower rate of early complications be more than counterbalanced by a need for repeat interventions and greater costs mid- and long-term?" Perler asked. "This is a question that deserves more analysis."

Both endovascular and open surgeries save lives and limbs every day, he said. But while considering any treatment option, patients should ask a lot of questions and seek expert opinions before they agree to one treatment over the other. And if they don't hear the right answers, they should take a walk – while they still can.

Vascular surgeons are highly qualified specialists that are trained to treat patients using both open and endovascular surgery procedures and are experts when it comes to recommending the proper treatment, he said. They also are trained to track a patient's disease and follow his or her progress both before and after surgery. Patients who don't see a vascular specialist regularly after surgery may not be aware when post-surgical trouble starts.

For more information about vascular disease and its treatments, visit To find a vascular surgeon near you, visit

About SVS

The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for more than 5,300 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. The Society is at 633 N. St. Clair St., 22nd Floor, Chicago, Ill., 60611. Visit or email Beth Bales, Content Manager, at 


SOURCE Society for Vascular Surgery