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Vascular Problems (Pathology)

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) occur when peripheral blood vessels are blocked, hardened and narrowed, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

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Venous Stasis

Venous stasis involves an inflammation of the skin in the lower legs as a result of chronic venous insufficiency. If the valves or walls of the veins in the legs are not working properly, it is difficult for blood to circulate from the legs back to the heart.  When pooled venous blood collects in the legs, it can result in skin inflammation and other complications as well. Treatment for this condition focuses on treating the underlying condition and is usually successful.

Swelling and varicose veins may arise, along with lesions that first appear on the skin as red or brown discolorations, but may then begin to scale and crust.  Other symptoms may develop, including itching, aching, a feeling of heaviness in the legs or pain upon standing.  Ulcers, or sores on the skin, sometimes form, especially on the inner ankles.

To make a diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical examination and take a medical history.  In some cases, testing including ultrasound imaging may be required to evaluate the blood flow through your legs.

Many cases of venous stasis can be treated through conservative methods such as elevating the leg and wearing compression garments to promote healing. Exercising regularly, losing weight and avoiding long periods of either sitting or standing often help to relieve symptoms.  Sclerotherapy and endovenous thermal ablation can be used to dissolve the affected vein.  For related skin issues, topical or oral antibiotics as well as topical steroid creams may be prescribed. Most cases of venous stasis can be effectively treated using noninvasive methods.

Lymphedema

Lymphedema involves a swelling in certain areas of the body that occurs as a result of a blockage within the lymphatic system, and is a common side effect of surgery or radiation therapy performed to treat breast cancer. Your doctor can diagnose lymphedema through a physical examination and measurement of the affected areas in comparison to unaffected areas. If significant lymphedema is noted, treatment may be administered through physical therapy, massage, compression banding or exercise.

Patients can prevent lymphedema by avoiding muscle strain, tight clothing, infection, burns and by maintaining a healthy weight. It is also important to follow your doctor’s instructions for post-treatment care of the breasts.

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