Atherosclerosis or plaque build-up can occur in all arteries in the body. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and family history.
When plaque builds up in leg arteries, it may limit walking distance (known as ‘claudication’). More severe disease can lead to pain or ulceration.
Treatment for arterial disease often starts with lifestyle changes and medication. Further treatment may be angioplasty or stents, and surgery may be required in some circumstances.
An angioplasty is performed using x-rays and injections of dye into the artery. A small needle and tube is placed into the artery using local anaesthetic, typically from the groin. Dye is injected and x-rays reveal a ‘roadmap’ of the arteries. Any narrowing may be crossed with a wire and a tiny balloon. This is inflated to stretch open the artery. The wire and balloon are removed, and blood flow is now improved. A stent is a fine metal cage that is sometimes needed to hold the artery open after balloon angioplasty.
Dr Lachlan Maddock can help with assessment and treatment of arterial disease.