These are blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from the heart to target organs all around the body. They are most commonly affected by “atherosclerosis” meaning hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels due to plaque build-up. They can also be affected by “aneurysms” meaning ballooning of the blood vessels. These conditions are most frequently attributed to smoking, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, renal failure and advancing age, or genetic predisposition. Treatment requires a balance of appropriate medications, as well as keyhole or open operations in specific situations.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral arteries are most commonly used to describe the blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to your legs. When these arteries are narrowed or blocked, it can produce pain on walking (claudication), or in advanced disease, it can cause pain at rest or problems with wound healing (ulcers or gangrene).
Most instances are amenable to keyhole treatment with an angiogram. This is typically through a drip in your groin artery, and using contrast dye and x-rays, the narrowings are crossed with wires and treated by stretching them open again (angioplasty or stenting) or removing built up plaque (atherectomy). Sometimes, more complex problems will require surgical cleaning out of the artery (thrombendarterectomy) or a bypass to divert blood flow around the blockage.
Diabetic Foot Disease
Diabetes can cause damage to arteries and nerves of the feet and legs. This puts diabetic feet at an especially increased risk of problems, including deformity, wounds, infection and ultimately amputation. However, many of these problems can be avoided or minimised with good care requiring a number of specialist and allied health professionals who work closely together. Dr Musicki works with endocrinologists, renal physicians, rehabilitation physicians, podiatrists, orthotists and wound care nurses to ensure best care.
Wounds that develop can be treated with special dressings and footwear. Sometimes, surgery is needed to clean the wounds or restore blood supply to help healing. The treatment options are similar to those for peripheral vascular disease.
Carotid arteries are blood vessels in your neck that carry oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Plaque that builds up here can rupture causing a shower of particles that block off blood supply to the brain causing a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA), or the eyes causing amaurosis.
Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the culprit plaque to prevent further risk of stroke. Carotid stenting is less commonly performed but can be useful.
Aortic Aneurysmal Disease
The aorta is the biggest artery in your body. It comes from the heart, and journeys through the chest and abdomen, sending smaller arteries to supply target organs throughout your body. An aortic aneurysm is when this blood vessel becomes too large and can therefore burst which is an imminently life-threatening condition.
Aortic aneurysms most commonly occur in the abdomen but also in the chest. Most instances can be fixed using minimally invasive technology through large drips in the groin arteries. Sometimes, more complex and time sensitive problems may require a traditional open operation.