When the wall of an artery or blood vessel is weakened, the area can become dilated or enlarged. Medically known as an aneurysm, this area is at risk for clotting and inhibiting blood flow. It is also at risk for rupture, which can cause severe bleeding. While aneurysms are most often associated with the aorta, which is the main artery carrying blood from the heart to the body, they also form in peripheral arteries, such as the femoral arteries (within the thigh), splenic arteries (near the spleen) and popliteal arteries (behind the knees). Though usually genetic and somewhat rare, peripheral arterial aneurysms in the arms and legs will not go away without treatment.
While rupture of a peripheral aneurysm is particularly low, the greatest concern associated with aneurysms of the femoral and popliteal arteries is the development of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and embolism. DVT is a serious condition, because blood clots within the veins can break loose and travel through the blood stream to another part of the body. For instance, when a blood clot makes it way to the lungs and blocks blood flow (pulmonary embolism), the result can be fatal.
In many cases, peripheral aneurysms do not produce any noticeable signs or symptoms initially, though the development of thrombosis and embolism can cause pain in the arms or legs, as well as a change in pulse and change in color (paleness).
While treatment options for femoral arterial aneurysms often involve revascularization with an open surgical repair, popliteal aneurysms (the arteries behind the knees) and splenic arterial aneurysms may be treated with an endovascular stent-graft procedure or through the use of thrombolytics. Either way, management of peripheral arterial aneurysms (PAA) is vital because of the risk of acute ischemia, limb loss or limb dysfunction (due to compression of a vein or artery by the aneurysm).
Traditional bypass surgery to repair an aneurysm in the leg involves closing off the artery with a clip or ligature and redirecting blood around the aneurysm. Endovascular techniques, or stent-grafting using a catheter, involves placing a graft inside the vein to seal off the aneurysm.
With extensive knowledge in the behavior of peripheral aneurysms and a particular specialty in limb salvage bypass surgery, Dr. Alan I. Benvenisty, MD is a highly respected and trusted vascular specialist in New York City. With a philosophy of treating patients as individuals, Dr. Benvenisty provides tailored treatment that is specific to every vascular condition, and surgery is rarely a first option.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Benvenisty, contact our office on Amsterdam Avenue today.