Cardiovascular Institute

Vascular disease

Vascular diseases affect your circulatory system of arteries, veins and lymph vessels. Your arteries could become narrowed by plaques, which lead to reduced blood flow in your arms, legs, head, neck and even your kidney and cause leg pain. Or your aorta could balloon and cause an aortic aneurysm, a weakened area of a blood vessel that can bleed and rupture.

At the Cardiovascular Institute, our extensively experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures to treat the various types of vascular disease. They use some of the most cutting-edge treatments and technologies to ensure that you have the best possible result.

Why the Cardiovascular Institute? 

  • Utilize the most sophisticated diagnostic tools to detect cardiovascular disease quickly and accurately
 
  • A multidisciplinary team that includes physicians from vascular surgery, vascular medicine, interventional radiology and cardiology who work together to provide you with the most well-rounded treatment plan possible
 
  • Innovative equipment and technology that allows our surgeons to remain ahead of the curve with treating vascular conditions
 
  • Patient-centric environment where our team focuses on you and your specific condition, symptoms and circumstances rather than treating every patient with the same approach
 

Our doctors are among the most experienced in the country and use advanced procedures and techniques to treat the following vascular diseases:

Aortic aneurysm

Carotid artery disease

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease, also called lower extremity arterial disease, occurs when fatty deposits called plaque buildup inside the arteries outside of the brain and heart. Clogged arteries cause decreased blood flow to your heart, which may cause you to have leg pain, chest pain and shortness of breath.

While the earliest signs of peripheral vascular disease are subtle, your condition can be successfully diagnosed and treated with our advanced techniques, including:

Medication/compression treatment may include pump therapy, manual drainage through massage therapy and various wrappings.

Anticoagulation management is blood-thinning medications to help prevent blood clots.

Balloon angioplasty/stents is a minimally invasive procedure where a small hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into your femoral artery (located in the groin) and threaded to your clogged artery. Once the catheter is in place, a balloon is inflated to widen the artery, and a small wire mesh coil called a stent is inserted to keep your artery from narrowing again.

Thrombolytic therapy/mechanical thrombectomy is a minimally invasive procedure where a small hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into your femoral artery (located in the groin) and threaded to your clogged artery. A clot-dissolving medication inside of the catheter is delivered directly to blockages, or a special catheter can be used to disrupt and remove clots.

Bypass surgery is when a surgeon creates a graft using healthy arteries or veins from another part of your body to bypass blocked portions of your coronary arteries. This allows blood to flow around the narrowed artery.

Radiofrequency ablation for saphenous vein is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to open or remove your saphenous vein. It involves inserting a small tube called a catheter into your femoral artery (located in the groin) and threading it to your vein. Utilizing radiofrequency energy and the heated catheter, the physician cauterizes – or burns – the tissue surrounding your saphenous vein to close it.

Balloon angioplasty/stents for renal vascular hypertension is a procedure to open narrowed arteries that carry blood to your kidneys. It involves inserting a long, thin tube called a catheter through into the narrowed part of the artery. A deflated balloon attached to a wire is then fed through the catheter to your artery where it is inflated to compress the plaque against your artery walls. A small wire mesh coil called a stent is then inserted to keep your artery from narrowing again.

Lutonix ® 035 is a device that delivers medication to the arteries via a drug-coated balloon. It improves blood flow through blocked arteries in the short term by using an angioplasty balloon to push plaque tight against the arterial wall, creating a larger channel for blood flow. The balloon then transfers a low dose of Paclitaxel, a cell-growth inhibitor, into the arterial wall to prevent plaque from reforming in the future. Allegheny Health Network is the first health system in the region to offer this innovative treatment for PAD.

Renal artery disease

Renal artery stenosis is the narrowing of one or both arteries that carry blood to your kidneys, also called renal arteries. Your kidneys need enough blood flow to help filter waste products and remove excess fluids from your body. If this blood flow is reduced, your blood pressure may increase and you may experience kidney dysfunction.

Treatment for renal artery stenosis depends on the cause of the blockage and severity of your blood pressure and kidney problems. Lifestyle changes and medications can help to control your blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors.

If these methods to not successfully manage the renal artery stenosis you may to have your arteries repaired. Our surgical options include:

Renal angioplasty and stenting is a minimally invasive procedure where a small hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into your femoral artery (located in the groin) and threaded to your carotid arteries. Once the catheter is in place, a balloon is inflated to widen the artery, and a small wire mesh coil called a stent is inserted to keep your artery from narrowing again. The stent stays in place as a support to keep the artery open, and the artery heals around the stent.

Renal artery bypass is when a surgeon creates a graft using healthy arteries from another part of your body or one made of synthetic fabric and stitches it above and below the blocked section of your artery. This allows blood to flow around the narrowed artery.

Renal endarterectomy involves a surgeon making an incision in your aorta to remove the plaque from the renal artery.
 

If you need ongoing kidney dialysis, the Cardiovascular Institute has a dedicated clinic and a staff of experienced surgeons, who are highly skilled and experienced with creating natural fistulas (dialysis access points) and dialysis grafts, as well as implanting dialysis catheters to access the bloodstream. When needed, our surgeons use a wide variety of technologies to view and reopen blocked fistulas. Many blockages can be cleared using specially designed equipment or clot-busting medications – often eliminating the need for additional surgery.

Venous insufficiency and varicose veins

There are valves in your legs’ veins that help to maintain a continuous flow of blood to your heart – against the force of gravity. These valves prevent your blood from flowing backward. Venous insufficiency occurs when the blood flow is obstructed, perhaps through a blood clot; when a valve is damaged and causing backward leakage (reflux), or when the saphenous veins (located in your legs) weaken and blood flow to your heart decreases and the blood pools.

In response to the pooling of blood, branches of the saphenous vein expand. Over time, the branch veins enlarge more and develop a bulging, snakelike pattern down your legs that is visible under the skin. These bulging veins are called varicose veins. The initial cause of venous insufficiency has been linked to a number of factors, including genetic predisposition, older age, pregnancy, prolonged standing, excess weight and inadequate exercise.

Although for some patients, varicose veins are merely a cosmetic nuisance, others can experience serious complications with debilitating symptoms. Long-term venous insufficiency can lead to pain and swelling that makes walking or standing for long periods of time difficult. Other symptoms include chronic leg fatigue or the development of leg ulcers.

We offer this unique procedure to treat venous insufficiency:

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure also called pulmonary vein isolation. It is when a small incision is made near your knee and a small electrode-tipped long tube (catheter) is threaded through the length of your vessel. On ultrasound imaging, the surgeon locates the enlarged vein. Using radiofrequency energy and the heated catheter, the physician shrinks the vein to eliminate any further valve leakage. The technique takes approximately one hour to perform, requires no general anesthesia and patients are usually able to resume normal activity in a few days.

Wound Healing and Lymphedema

The Allegheny Health Network provides specialized treatment for both wound care and lymphedema. We combine the expertise of health professionals from vascular surgery and orthopedic surgery, as well as the disciplines of plastic surgery, dermatology, endocrinology, physical therapy and nursing. This comprehensive approach to wound healing, limb preservation and follow-up care promotes a better quality of life.

We use the latest treatment methods and traditional clinical practices to evaluate and manage wounds and lymphedema, including:

F-scan computerized plantar measurement system is a technology that pinpoints high-pressure areas on the foot and determines the origin of foot wounds. With this information, we can prescribe specially designed footwear and medical devices to help prevent wound recurrences.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a pressurized chamber that delivers increased amounts of oxygen to difficult-to-heal wounds to promote healing.

Compression management has a wide array of techniques to control fluid accumulation and swelling, including sophisticated compression pumps, wraps and manual lymphatic drainage.

Growth-factor therapy: Platelet-derived growth factor is released during the body’s normal reparative process and has been shown to promote a similar effect in non-healing wounds. We are working with advanced techniques to stimulate this effect using naturally circulating platelets.


Find out more about this specialty at a location near you.

 

Classes & Events

Registration Types

Event openOpenEvent closedClosedEvent openCancelled