By Dr. Pravin Narkhede, Vascular Surgery
A peripheral arterial disease (also known as Peripheral artery disease) is one of the most common circulatory diseases, especially for aged people. In this condition, the arteries get narrowed which reduce the blood flow to the limbs.
This condition can occur in any part of the body. However, it usually occurs in the legs. The narrow or blocked arteries (large blood vessels) leads to less supply of oxygen and blood in the tissues of foot and leg.
In some of the cases, this blockage of legs can be cured by medications and alternative therapies. However, if the blood vessels (or arteries) of the leg are badly narrow or blocked and the symptoms are getting worse, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove the blockage.
Before understanding the surgical procedures, let’s explore some of the symptoms of such condition:
- Claudication: Pain in the muscles of leg while walking.
- Rest Pain: Pain in the feet while sitting or resting, especially in the night while sleeping
- Gangrene: Dead tissue in the leg.
- Leg and feet sores that won’t heal easily.
Causes of Narrow and Blocked Legs-
It is seen that over time, plaque or fatty material built up in the arteries of the leg. This is termed as atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries. The plaque inside the arteries slows down the flow of blood in the leg.
Risk Factors that Increases the Plaque-
Some of the factors that increase the risk of developing plaque are:
- Smoking cigars, pipes, and cigarettes, or chewing tobacco.
- High cholesterol.
- Eating fatty or junk foods.
- Diseases such as high blood pressure, heart problem, hypertension, and diabetes.
However eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking medication if you are suffering from any chronic disease can help a person lowering the risk of developing plaque.
Surgery is Needed For the Treatment of Blocked Legs-
Symptoms like numbness, pain, and infection in the leg may increase with time. A person may also be at the risk of losing the leg. This is why surgery is one of the best ways to treat this condition.
There are two types of surgery performed on the femoral artery that helps in the transportation of blood to the legs, toes, and feet. These are:
- Repair: In this type of treatment, a blocked artery is cleaned and repaired to improve the flow of blood. The doctor will make a small incision near the blockage in the leg and remove the plaque from the walls of the artery. This will improve blood flow in the leg. After the plaque is taken out, the cut is closed with staples or stitches.
- Bypass: In this type of treatment, a new tube (called graft) is placed around the blocked or narrow part of the artery to improve the flow of blood.
Leg Bypass Surgery Procedure-
The best way to treat a blocked leg is with Bypass surgery. In this surgery, the surgeon constructs a different path for blood flow. The surgeon reconstructs an entire blood path that goes around the blockage. He/She uses a different vein nearby to divert the blood flow from the diseased artery. However, a new vessel can also be created from plastic and other materials to detour the blood flow. This surgery takes up to 5 hours to finish and the patient may need to rest for 1-2 weeks in the hospital.
Leg Bypass surgery can be performed in two ways:
- Leg Bypass: In this Bypass surgery, the surgeon makes a cut from the groin to the knee of the leg. One end of the new tube is attached to the artery at the top part of the leg and another end is attached to the artery of the lower part of the leg. Now the blood flows through the new tube instead of the artery. This will also help in reducing the pain.
- Femoro-femoral Bypass: In this procedure, the surgeon makes a cut in the groin area of the leg. The one end of the tube is connected to the main artery in the unblocked leg and the other end is connected to the main artery of the blocked leg. This makes the blood to flow through the tube from unblocked leg to blocked leg. The artery of the working leg will transport blood to both legs.
There are other treatment options available for the blocked leg. This is why it is always important to consult a doctor before going for any surgery. It is also important that one must follow all the pre and post instructions prescribed by the doctor for better results.