Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty deposits within the wall of the arteries within the body. When this occurs in the arteries to the legs, it is called peripheral arterial disease. The narrowing or even blockage of the arteries to the legs can cause a variety of problems depending on the severity and location of the blockage. Some patients have no symptoms at all, while others suffer pain on exercise (intermittent claudication). If the circulation to the legs gets even worse, then persistent pain may be felt in the foot and gangrene may occur. The blockage usually must be causing significant symptoms or be limb-threatening before bypass surgery is considered.

The type of surgical procedure used to treat peripheral artery disease will depend largely upon the location of the affected vessel. The most common forms of peripheral artery surgery are as follows:

STENTING - this is a small tube placed within an artery or blood vessel to hold it open. This can allow blood to pass and reduce the obstruction caused by plaque buildup.

ANGIOPLASTY - this procedure uses a balloon that is introduced into the affected artery through a nearby blood vessel. The balloon inflates and pushes plaque out of the way of blood flow.

PERIPHERAL ATHERECTOMY - during this procedure a catheter is guided to the area of plaque buildup in the artery. When in place, the catheter removes the plaque, permitting blood to flow freely through the artery.

ENDARTERECTOMY - this involves the surgical removal of plaque from a narrowed or blocked artery. The plaque is removed through a minor incision in the affected artery, thereby restoring blood flow.

Traditional open bypass surgery - this procedure reroutes blood flow around a blocked artery by replacing the blocked portion of the blood vessel with a healthy vein from another part of your body, or with a synthetic tube.

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