Circulation & Claudication

‘Blocked arteries’ or peripheral vascular disease is a common problem. The major blood vessels often supplying your legs become blocked by a disease process of atherosclerosis 'hardening of the arteries’. Calcium and cholesterol plaques occlude your blood supply to organs or your legs. This is commonly caused by multiple factors such as age, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension and also genetics (family history).

The most common symptom is pain in the major muscle groups (calf, thigh or buttock muscles) of your legs when you walk. Calf muscle pain occurs after walking a fixed distance and is relieved within a few minutes of rest, but recurs again after walking the same fixed distance again. Thus walking becomes a stop, start and stop again affair. This symptom is called claudication. When an artery is blocked or narrowed, insufficient blood supply reaches the muscles with exercise and can cause muscle ache and pain; only relieved with rest. If the blood supply remains severely insufficient gangrene and painful ulcers can occur leading to amputation.

Endovascular Surgery

Dr Gett uses minimally invasive ‘key hole’ techniques to treat this problem, often requiring only an overnight hospital stay. This endovascular surgery passes a small wire though an atherosclerotic blockage in the artery. A ‘balloon angioplasty’ is performed in which a tiny balloon opens the occluded blood vessel where, on some occasions, a metallic ‘stent’ is placed to hold the blood vessel open. The ‘stent’ or the ‘balloon angioplasty’ can be coated with a special drug which inhibits regrowth of the atherosclerosis. After the procedure ‘blood thinning drugs, aspirin or aspirin like drugs are used to help prevent further blockages.

The procedure is generally performed under a local anaesthetic with analgesia, so you are awake but experience no pain. X ray guidance is used to undertake the surgery and find the blocked arteries.

Dr Gett has undertaken thousands of these procedures and will discuss with you, how this procedure can improve your walking and eliminate the muscle pain with exercise.

Bypass Surgery

Occasionally minimally invasive ‘key hole’ surgery is not possible, as some blood vessels have long hardened occlusions which wires, balloons and stents can not pass through and re open. In these cases vascular surgical bypass surgery is employed to restore blood supply to the leg or organ. A bypass graft using your own spare veins is produced to create a detour around the blocked artery. This surgery is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and may require a week in hospital to recover.

If you have further questions regarding Bypass Surgery, do not hesitate to ask and Dr Gett will discuss these with you.