Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, is hardening of the arteries, which supply blood to the arms, legs, intestines, kidneys, etc. Sometimes the vessels are so affected that blockages (obstruction to blood flow) occur, which cause symptoms such as pain, cramping, ulceration, infection – even death. Frequently, legs severely affected by PAD, if neglected, must be amputated. But these limbs can sometimes be salvaged.
A simple test, the Ankle/Brachial Index, ABI, which measures blood pressure in the arm versus the legs, can detect blockages in the arteries of the leg. If a patient has low ABI’s and symptoms, further testing, such as CT Angiography (similar to CT Angiography for the heart) or angiography, should be done. If the anatomy of the blockages can be fixed with angioplasty and/or stenting with catheters, which are introduced through the leg, reintroduction of blood flow can lead to tissue healing, thus avoiding amputation.