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Treatment for Vascular Disease: Vascular Procedures

Emory Decatur Hospital and Emory Hillandale Hospital offer a wide variety of Atlanta-based procedures and treatment for vascular disease. Treatment of vascular disease almost always includes lifestyle modifications, or making changes to diet and exercise habits. Your vascular surgeon may also prescribe medication. In some cases, vascular procedures, such as surgery, may be the only option to treat the condition or illness.

Learn more about our vascular services offered at our Atlanta-based Heart and Vascular Institute.

Vascular Procedures

There are also many vascular procedures used to treat vascular disease. Many of these are performed by vascular surgeons. Other types of treatment for vascular disease are performed by interventional radiologists, physicians who are specifically trained to use different imaging techniques (e.g., X-rays, CT scans) to both diagnose and treat disease. Interventional radiology procedures are typically minimally-invasive and carry a lower risk of complications than regular surgeries.

Some of the most common vascular procedures include:

Angioplasty – In these vascular procedures, a small hollow tube (catheter) is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. A small balloon on its tip is inflated to reopen the artery and flatten the blockage into the artery wall, while at the same time stretching the artery open to increase blood flow. In some cases, a stent is left in place to hold the artery wall open.

Atherectomy – Minimally-invasive vascular procedures used to remove blockage from the coronary arteries and allow more blood to flow to the heart muscle.

Bypass Surgery – Rerouting of blood from above a blockage to below the blockage. The rerouted blood is carried by a graft. The surgeon may create a graft bypass using a vessel from another part of the body, or using a graft made of synthetic fabric. This type of treatment for vascular disease allows blood to flow around, or bypass, the blocked or narrowed artery.

Dialysis Catheter/Port – Dialysis catheters have an opening (arterial port) for blood flow out of the body and another opening (venous port) for blood return after it flows through the dialysis machine. During this type of treatment for vascular disease, these catheters are usually inserted in the chest or neck, and a port is accessible on the skin surface to access the catheter.

Endarterectomy – Although it may be performed on any artery, these vascular procedures are most commonly performed for treating carotid artery disease (carotid endarterectomy). With endarterectomy, the surgeon opens the artery and then removes the blockage. This type of open surgery is best for blockages that are short in length.

Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR) – This is a minimally-invasive procedure to repair aneurysms. Endovascular means that this treatment for vascular disease is performed inside your artery using long, thin tubes called catheters that are threaded through your blood vessels. Using X-ray guidance, the graft is placed inside your aneurysm through these catheters. Your surgeon will make only small incisions in your groin area, through which to thread the catheters, in order to reach the aneurysm.

Endovascular Therapy – This refers to any vascular procedures performed by working inside a blood vessel. The most common are angioplasty, stenting and endovascular aneurysm repair.

Endovenous Ablation – Using ultrasound to “see” the vein, a small catheter is inserted through a small needle puncture into one of the superficial veins of the leg. Subsequently, either laser (laser ablation) or radiofrequency is applied to the vein, which results in closing of the vein.

Femoral Popliteal Bypass Surgery (Fem Pop) – This type of treatment for vascular disease reroutes the blood supply around a blocked artery in one of the legs.

Open (conventional) Aneurysm Repair – During these vascular procedures, the surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen or chest and then replaces the diseased aorta (the aneurysm) with an artificial graft that is sewn in place.

Stent – The doctor may also insert a mesh framework called a stent in the artery to help keep it open. This is the same type of treatment for vascular disease that surgeons use to open heart arteries.

Surgical Vein Stripping – This older technique of treating varicose veins involves a small groin incision through which a catheter is inserted into the vein. The catheter is then pulled out, resulting in “stripping” of the vein. These vascular procedures are usually combined with removal of the varicose veins through small incisions.

Thrombolytic Therapy – If there is a blood clot blocking an artery, the doctor may inject a clot-dissolving drug into the artery at the point of the clot to break it up.

Thrombectomy – These vascular procedures consist of surgery used to remove a clot that blocks blood flow in one of two veins through which blood leaves the intestine. Click here to watch Dr. Melissa Seely-Morgan explain more about deep vein clots and their treatment.


Because most peripheral vascular disease is associated with atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the blood vessels), physicians may prescribe special treatment for vascular disease, such as medications, to reduce the overall risks of atherosclerosis, including heart attack or stroke. Medications to reduce atherosclerotic risk might include:

  • Cholesterol-lowering medications
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Medication to better control diabetes
  • Medications to prevent blood clots, such as aspirin

Other medications may be specifically for the vascular disease for which you are being treated. These might include:

  • Symptom-relief medications, such as for claudication
  • Stronger medications for blood clots such as warfarin (Coumadin), also known as anticoagulation therapy

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