At The Vascular Institute at LA Metropolitan Medical Center, we are dedicated to the early diagnosis and treatment of all types of vascular diseases and conditions. We retain the most highly trained and skilled physicians, surgeons and medical staff possible. We endeavor to treat our patients with dignity and respect and employ the latest techniques and research available to bring our patients the very best quality care possible.
We believe in saving lives by saving limbs. And we do it every day.
What is Vascular Disease?
Most people are familiar with the term “Heart Disease,” which is the medical consequences of blockages in the vessels that carry blood to and from the heart. Vascular Disease involves the consequences of blockages in the arteries - the vessels that carry blood away from the heart. Due to poor diet, lack of exercise and certain hereditary issues, these vessels can also experience a buildup of plaque and cholesterol that can seriously affect one’s health – and if left unchecked, lead to stroke, loss of limbs and even death.
Three of the most recognized vascular diseases include:
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm– Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is an enlargement or “bulge” that develops in a weakened area within the largest artery in the abdomen. The pressure generated by each heartbeat pushes against the weakened aortic wall, causing the aneurysm to enlarge. If the AAA remains undetected, the aortic wall will continue to weaken, and the aneurysm will continue to grow. Eventually, the aneurysm will become so large, and its wall so weak, that rupture occurs. When this happens there is massive internal bleeding - a situation that is usually fatal. Early detection is key, for the only way to break this cycle is to find the AAA before it ruptures.
Carotid Artery Disease /Stroke–Carotid arterial blockages occur when the main blood vessels to the brain develop a buildup of plaque caused by atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When the buildup becomes very severe, it can lead to a stroke. A stroke occurs when part of the brain is damaged by lack of blood flow. In fact, 80 percent of strokes are “ischemic strokes” where part of the circulation to the brain is cut off, usually due to blockages in the carotid arteries. The process is similar to the buildup of plaque in arteries in the heart that causes heart attacks. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Peripheral Arterial Disease– Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, causes a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues of the body. As these plaques continue to build up, they reduce essential blood flow to the limbs and can cause complete blockages of the arteries. Early on, PAD may only cause difficulty walking, but in its most severe forms it can cause painful foot ulcers, infections, and even gangrene, which can require amputation. People with PAD are three times more likely to die of heart attack or stroke than those without PAD.
Who is at Risk?
An estimated 20 to 30 million Americans are at risk for various vascular diseases, including stroke, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), carotid artery disease and aortic aneurysms. The risk factors for vascular disease are many and include:
The Importance of Early Detection
In most cases, with early detection, vascular disease can be treated effectively. There are several simple screening tests that detect any potential problem, the majority of which are non-invasive.
The Vascular Institute at Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center employs the latest technologies and diagnostic equipment to diagnose conditions of the vascular and circulatory systems, including:
Ultrasound– or Doppler Imaging, is a non-invasive method that maps out a picture of the artery with sound waves and measures the blood flow to indicate the presence of a blockage.
Computed Tomographic Angiography (CTA)– is a non-invasive test that can show the arteries in the abdomen, pelvis and legs. This test is particularly useful in patients with pacemakers or stents.
Magnetic Resonance Arteriogram (MRA)– is a non-invasive test that yields information similar to that of a CT without the use of X-rays.
Ankle Brachial Test– This test evaluates blood flow to the legs. It is non-invasive and enables your medical professional to determine if there is any narrowing or restriction of an artery or blood vessel that reduces blood flow, how serious the blockage is and exactly where it is located. This test is done by measuring blood pressure at the ankle and in the arm while a person is at rest.
Peripheral Angiogram– A peripheral angiogram is a test that uses dye and special X-rays to show the inside of arteries that supply blood to the legs. This test allows the physician to determine if narrowing or blockage exists, the location and to what extent.
Not unlike a coronary angiogram to view the coronary artery anatomy, a peripheral angiogram procedure involves threading a long, thin flexible tube (catheter) into the arteries of the leg. Dye is injected through the catheter and special X-rays are taken while the dye is flowing through the arteries.
Leading Edge Treatments
At The Vascular Institute at Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, we offer prescription drug, surgical and non-surgical treatment for vascular disease, including:
Endovascular Treatment– Our highly trained, experienced physicians are often able to treat vascular conditions without surgery. Endovascular Treatment is a minimally invasive procedure using balloon angioplasty and stents to remove blockages by shaving or sanding (atherectomy) the narrowed arterial walls.
Angioplasty and Stenting– Angioplasty and Stenting involves insertion of a catheter into an artery in either the patient's arm or groin. The catheter is guided to the artery that is blocked. Once the catheter is in place near the blockage, a small balloon is inflated and deflated a number of times, pushing the plaque against the artery walls and widening the artery itself. Sometimes a mesh-metal tube called a 'stent' is put into place in order to widen the patient's artery and keep it open. The stent remains in place, allowing blood to flow through the artery where the blockage had previously occurred.
Bypass Surgery– Bypass Surgery involves the creation of a detour around the blockage of a section of a patient's artery. The vascular surgeon uses a vein or a tube in order to accomplish the surgery. The surgeon attaches the bypass both above and below the area of the artery that is blocked, creating a new path for the patient's blood to flow to their tissue.
Endarterectomy– Endarterectomy involves removal of the plaque from a person's artery. In order to accomplish this, the vascular surgeon makes an incision and removes the plaque from the lining of the artery. The result is an artery that has a restored ability to allow blood flow through the artery.
Amputation– Amputation is the final and very last resort – after all treatments have been tried. However, in certain cases, amputation is an option for patients whose limb(s) has become gangrenous and is not salvageable. Our highly skilled physicians and surgeons at The Vascular Institute at Los Angeles Metropolitan Hospital work diligently to save limbs whenever possible. In fact, we believe that in more than 90% of cases, we will be able to help our patients avoid amputation, or at least limit the extent of it.
Additional Conditions Treated
We also treat all vascular and circulatory conditions, including:
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