Vascular surgery refers to any surgery involving the vascular system (your veins and arteries) and the lymphatic system (your lymph nodes.) This type of surgery is recommended for a number of conditions, including aneurysms, blockage in arteries, varicose veins and lymphedema. So-called heart by-pass surgery, angioplasty and surgery to insert a stent in an artery are common examples of vascular surgery.
Your veins and arteries carry your blood throughout your body, to the brain, your lungs, your extremities and your heart. A blockage or breakdown in this system and cells won't get the crucial nutrients they need and will start to die. This can cause everything from a heart attack to gangrene in your leg or foot. Fortunately, a variety of vascular surgery techniques can help to keep these vital blood vessels open and functioning properly. However, before they schedule you for surgery, your medical team will likely do a battery of test to determine if vascular surgery is the right option for you.
Tests to determine if vascular surgery is indicated
1. Angiogram. An angiogram is a test where your medical team will insert a small amount of dye in your blood vessels via a catheter, allow it to circulate and then take x-rays to see whether there is a blockage or other irregularity to this circulation. After the test, the dye will be naturally eliminated from your system. This test is particularly useful in diagnosing peripheral artery disease, enlargement of the arteries, blood clots in the lungs, malformed arteries and deep vein thrombosis.
2. CT angiography. This test combines the imaging of a traditional CT scan with the same type of tracking used in an angiogram. This allows the medical team to view a 3D image of a cross-section of your body. To take the test, you lie on a table that has a donut-shaped imaging device attached to it. The device passes over your body to take the images.
3. Duplex ultrasound. A duplex ultrasound allows your doctors to see the actual structure of the blood vessels. The ultrasound test takes about 30 minutes and produces an image by bouncing short bursts of sound waves off of your red blood cells and sending that information to a computer to map your blood vessels.
Vascular surgery can literally be a life saver. If your doctors or professionals at places like Cedar Surgical Associates PC suspect you may need this type of surgery, be prepared to have several tests, including an angiogram, a CT angiography and/or a duplex ultrasound.