Diagnosing Vascular Problems
When considering the intricacies of the network of tubes (some big, some very small) of the vascular system that work to move blood throughout the body, it’s easy to understand why a specialist is needed to diagnose and monitor any condition that affects blood flow. Depending on a patient’s health history and symptoms, there are a variety of methods used to diagnose vascular problems. Consider the following:
- Catheter angiography: Producing detailed images of blood vessels, catheter angiography incorporates diagnosis and treatment into one procedure (if necessary) as it checks for aneurysms and plaque (atherosclerosis).
- CTA (Computer tomography angiography): Blood vessels can be evaluated through an injection of contrast material (containing iodine) and a CT scan.
- Vascular ultrasound: Sound waves help doctors identify blockages and blood clots, while a Doppler ultrasound study may be used to assess the blood flow in a blood vessel.
- Venography: Whether used to detect blood clots, identify a suitable vein for surgery, dialysis access or to evaluate varicose veins, venography is an x-ray examination that involves a contrast injection.
- MRA (magnetic resonance angiography): To evaluate blood vessels and diagnose plaque (atherosclerotic disease), MRA uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer. Unlike other diagnostic methods that use an iodine-based contrast, MRA uses gadolinium.
Vascular surgeons may use the above-mentioned diagnostic tests and screens to identify abnormalities in the aorta, chest, abdomen and other arteries, including the carotid artery. They can detect injuries, small aneurysms, atherosclerotic disease, kidney disease, dissection or splitting of the aorta, pulmonary embolisms and obstructions. In addition, these methods provide a way to evaluate arteries that are feeding a tumor.
Causes and Symptoms of Vascular Problems
While individuals are more likely to develop some form of vascular disease with age, other risk factors and pre-existing medical conditions contribute to vascular disease including:
- Family history
- Injury or infection
- High cholesterol
- Tobacco use (including secondhand smoke)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic renal failure
- Sitting or standing for an extended period of time
While some symptoms associated with vascular problems may be due to working conditions or underlying diseases and lifestyle, it’s wise to consider the following:
- Arm or leg pain and cramping (most notably in the calf muscle, occurs during exercise or movement and stops when the body is at rest)
- Pain in the feet (usually occurs at night when an individual is lying down and facing up)
- Numbness in legs or feet
- Muscle atrophy
- Feeling of coldness (mostly in legs and feet)
- Hair loss on top of the feet
- Thickened toenails
- Sores that do not heal (especially in legs and feet)
- Infections and painful ulcers (mostly in feet)
If you or a loved one believe that you are suffering from some form of vascular disease, it’s important to contact a trusted physician with a special emphasis and extensive experience in vascular diagnosis and surgery. Dr. Alan I. Benvenisty holds a special qualification in vascular surgery and brings a conservative, yet conscientious approach when it comes to your vascular concerns. Without question, you can be sure that all of your options for long-term health will be given to you. Contact Dr. Benvenisty today.