Published on January 31, 2020

Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head — most commonly in the arteries of the legs – which deliver blood from the heart throughout the body. When the arteries are blocked, blood flow is restricted and prevents oxygen from reaching tissues. This can cause pain, sores, or even dead tissue that can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

Some patients experience pain or heaviness in their legs while walking, which makes exercise or climbing stairs difficult.

Blockages can occur in other arteries too, including the mesenteric arteries, which provide blood flow to the intestines, and renal arteries, which supply the kidneys.


Interventional radiologists at Silver Cross perform minimally invasive treatments with less risk, less pain, and less recovery time than traditional surgery to treat peripheral arterial disease.

  • Thrombolysis. Thrombolysis delivers medication slowly, over 12-24 hours, to a blood clot through a thin tube that is inserted next to or within the clot. This treatment is usually enacted in an emergency because the body has not had enough time to respond by growing new blood vessels to bypass the blockage. The patient is hospitalized during the treatment and will be watched by nurses and doctors in the intensive care unit. Often, the clots will be dissolved, but the artery will still be narrowed and additional treatments may be required.
  • Thrombectomy. When a blood clot suddenly blocks blood flow, a treatment known as a thrombectomy will remove the clot from the body using various medical tools that can draw out, pull out, or vaporize the clot. The method chosen depends on the preference of the physician and the location of the clot. 
  • Angioplasty. Angioplasty uses inflatable devices called balloons to open up narrowed arteries. Various types of balloons are used in different situations, including balloons that stretch arteries open, metal-edged balloons that cut and break up calcium deposits, and drug-coated balloons that can prevent scarring and future narrowing of the artery. During angioplasty, the interventional radiologist guides a catheter with a tiny balloon tip through the blood vessels into the blockage. The balloon is inflated to widen the artery, which restores blood flow. Sometimes the doctor will place a stent (a tiny mesh tube) in the artery to help keep it open. 
  • Stenting. Stenting uses small metal tubes to hold open narrowed arteries that are closing. Various types of stents are used, including two main categories: bare metal, which are made of simple metal mesh, and allow the body to coat the stent with cells that prevent new blood clots from forming; and drug-eluting, which slowly administer medication to the blood vessel wall to prevent scar formation.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.