Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

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Peripheral artery disease (PAD) usually occurs when pelvis and leg arteries become narrow or blocked. This is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which creates atherosclerosis. Left untreated, serious cases of PAD can lead to loss of circulation in the legs, gangrene and amputation of the affected limb.

PAD Diagnosis & Treatment

At UVA, we can diagnose you by using these tests:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI)
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) angiography
  • Magnetic resonance angiography
  • Pulse volume recording (PVR)

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease

PAD, or peripheral artery disease, usually occurs when pelvis and leg arteries become narrow or blocked. View PAD transcript.

Treatment depends on the severity of the PAD. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, supervised exercise and eating a low-fat diet. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help reduce cholesterol and blood-pressure levels and to help prevent blood clots. 

If you have severe PAD, you may need a procedure to break up blockages or route blood flow around a blockage.

Subintimal Angioplasty 

UVA is a regional pioneer in subintimal angioplasty. Your surgeon inserts a wire into the wall of the affected artery. Once the wire passes the blockage, we move it into the artery and a balloon inflates to open the artery. Subintimal angioplasty is especially effective in treating longer blockages.

Minimally Invasive Bypass Grafts

Similar to heart-bypass procedures, this is where a surgeon takes veins from elsewhere in the body to reroute blood flow around a blockage in the artery.


Stents are inserted to open a blocked passageway to improve blood flow.

Mechanical Thrombectomy Device

Doctors use this device to break up blockages in the artery and improve blood flow.

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.