Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.)

Frequently Asked Questions

9. Is surgery ever used to treat P.A.D.?

Yes. In some people, lifestyle changes are not enough to control P.A.D. Surgery and other procedures may be needed. These may include bypass grafting surgery, angioplasty, a stent, or a procedure called atherectomy (ath-eh-REK-to-mee).

  • Your doctor may recommend bypass grafting surgery if blood flow in your limb is blocked or nearly blocked. In this type of surgery, a blood vessel from another part of the body or a man-made tube is used to make a graft. This graft bypasses (goes around) the blocked part of the artery, which allows blood to flow around the blockage. This surgery doesn't cure P.A.D., but it may increase blood flow to the affected limb.
  • Angioplasty is used to restore blood flow through a narrowed or blocked artery. During this procedure, a catheter (thin tube) with a balloon or other device on the end is inserted into a blocked artery. The balloon is inflated, which pushes the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and restores blood flow.
  • A stent (a small mesh tube) may be placed in the artery during angioplasty. A stent helps keep the artery open after the procedure is done. Some stents are coated with medicine to help prevent blockages in the artery.
  • A procedure called atherectomy (ath-eh-REK-to-mee) may be used to remove plaque buildup from an artery. During the procedure, a catheter (thin tube) is used to insert a small cutting device into the blocked artery. The device is used to shave or cut off the plaque. The bits of plaque are removed from the body through the catheter or washed away in the bloodstream (if they’re small enough). Doctors also can do atherectomy using a special laser that dissolves the blockage.