Causes and treatments for Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

At BVI, one of the most common reasons we see patients is for comprehensive peripheral vascular screening, diagnosis and treatment. Often these patients have PVD or Peripheral Vascular Disease. PVD is a common term for narrowing and obstruction of the arteries in our bodies outside the heart and brain.

A progressive build-up of plaque

“Another (general term for PVD) is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. It is caused by progressive build up of plaques inside the walls of our arteries made up of fatty deposits, cholesterol and other materials,” said Dr. G. Shepard Morano of the VCU Medical Center.

According to Dr. Morano, symptoms of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) occur when the blood flow is decreased and pain occurs.

Symptoms range from sensitivity to pain

Conditions associated with PVD that affect the veins include deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, and chronic venous insufficiency. The more commonly affected areas are the arteries in the legs, arms, kidneys and neck. Symptoms can include leg pain that occurs when exercising and ceases during rest. Pain, numbness, sensitivity to cold can also occur in the legs, feet, arms or fingers.

Various treatments available

“Treatment is tailored to the severity of the disease and includes lifestyle modification such as smoking cessation, healthy diet, and exercise as well as medical therapy with anti-platelet medications such as aspirin or Plavix and often cholesterol management with drugs such as statins (like) Lipitor and others,” Dr. Morano said.

More severe cases can now be treated successfully with minimally invasive endovascular therapies. This means that blockages and narrowing in the arteries can be treated safely and effectively without open surgery, using catheter based treatments utilizing a simple groin puncture (tiny hole) usually in the femoral artery. “Patients can expect same day treatment and discharge with minimal recovery time,” explained Dr. Morano.

“Atherectomy, or removal of plaque from the walls of blocked arteries using special catheters, has also become a popular and minimally invasive treatment for PVD,” said Dr. Morano.

If minimally invasive treatments fail or are no longer a feasible option for patients with PVD, bypass surgery can be very effective and durable treatment. This involves using a harvested vein (usually from the leg or arm) or a synthetic graft to route blood flow around the obstruction.

Contact VCU Baird today

At BVI, we have the latest in technology and techniques to diagnose and treat PVD and help you get back to good health. If we uncover signs of problems, our experts can develop a custom treatment plan for you.

If you want to learn more about peripheral vascular disease (PVD) treatment options, or if you have been told that you need a vascular test, please contact BVI at (804) 828-2600 or email us at

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