How do I know I need to see a vascular surgeon

How do I know I need to see a vascular surgeon

Many people are out there who don’t know what vascular surgeons are and what they do?

So, let’s start with the introduction first.

What is a Vascular Surgeon?

Vascular surgeons are highly trained superspecialist doctors who treat diseases related to blood vessels (pipes carrying blood in the body) like Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), varicose veins or spider veins, venous leg ulcers, any blood clot and many more diseases related to arteries and veins. 

I hope now readers will have understood what vascular surgeons are and what they do.

Diseases related to arteries, veins or any type of blood vessels diseases are quite common among people.

The most common vascular diseases are- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) / gangrene in limbs, Diabetic foot, Varicose or Spider Veins, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), Pulmonary Embolism (blood clots), Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), Carotid Artery Disease (CAD), Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), and many more is in the list.

How do I know I need to see a vascular surgeon?

People ask me questions like “how do I know I need to visit a vascular surgeon? Is it too late to see a vascular surgeon or is it early to see a vascular surgeon? Their queries never end. As a vascular surgeon, I have to go through this on a daily basis and I get happiness by clearing their doubts and solving their queries.

A huge proportion of patients come to me when it’s too late. Few patients come to me with problems as old as 20 years.

Neglecting vascular disease and keeping them untreated for years & years is very risky.

As a doctor, I will suggest you not to ignore any health-related issue and see a doctor as soon as possible before it’s too late.

So, now let’s come to the point.

How would you know that now you need to go to a vascular surgeon?

Look, our body gives us indications when we suffer from any kind of disease. We need to recognize and understand those indications before it’s too late.

Indications might be in any form. It might be a severe pain or fever that keeps on coming and going it can be anything.

I’m mentioning those indications through which you will come to know that now you should need to see a vascular surgeon.

If you come to know that you are suffering from vascular veins or spider veins, Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) or any disease, you should go and visit a vascular surgeon without waiting for any indications.

Indications not to ignore:

  • Severe pain in leg
  • Leg pain while walking or resting
  • Ulcers anywhere on leg or foot (even very small ones) especially in diabetic patients.
  • Non-healing sores on feet
  • Discolored hands/ feet
  • Cluster of veins on legs
  • Bulging & painful legs
  • Bulging and twisted veins
  • Veins appear dark blue or purple in color
  • Swelling especially if it increases on long term standing.
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensation
  • Heaviness in the leg

If your body is giving these indications it means that significant chances are there that you are suffering from a vascular disease and you need to consult and see a vascular surgeon as soon as possible.

Each and every vascular disease has different symptoms but some of them are similar.

Here, I’m mentioning the signs and symptoms of a few common vascular diseases

Common Vascular Diseases

Peripheral arterial disease / Gangrene

Peripheral arterial disease is a disease of the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the foot from the heart. Obstruction or narrowing of these blood vessels can cause the reduction in oxygen to the tissues in the foot and leg and this causes ulcer / gangrene.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain in leg after walking some distance; which relieves on resting
  • Pain in foot especially during night when leg is kept on the bed
  • Non healing ulcer on the foot especially in toes
  • Gangrene of the foot / toes
  • Non healing ulcer caused due to minor trauma

It is important to show to a vascular surgeon immediately if you have pain in foot in the night that is not relieved with pain killers/ulcers on foot/gangrene. Timely treatment can reduce need for major surgery and also, increase chances of success of treatment.

Diabetic foot

Diabetic foot is a complex constellations of symptoms that occur in diabetic patients when the diabetes damages the neurovascular and muskuloskeletal parts of the foot ie the nerves, arteries, muscles and joints.

Signs and symptoms

  • Non healing ulcer on the foot
  • Gangrene of the foot
  • Deformed foot
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Reduced sensations on the foot

It is important to note that such patients need great care of their feet to maintain cleanliness of the foot. Also, because the sensations in the foot are reduced, they are prone to get burnt when they take hot water bath during winters or walking barefoot in religious places.

Varicose veins / spider veins

Varicose vein refers to enlarge, twisted and bulging veins. It mostly occurs in the legs and thighs. Spider vein refers to small but visible, tortuous veins that are visible most commonly in the legs.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Veins will appear dark blue or purple in color
  • Twisted and bulging veins will appear
  • Aching especially in the evening
  • Heavy feeling in leg
  • Burning sensation in legs
  • Throbbing and stabbing pain in leg
  • Swelling leg especially after prolonged standing
  • Skin discoloration around affected area

Venous leg ulcer

Venous leg ulcer is a long-lasting wound that develops on the leg which takes too much time to heal.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration
  • Hardened skin around the ulcer
  • Foul-smelling Liquid fluid coming out from the sore

Deep Veins Thrombosis (DVT)

When blood clot forms in the veins deep inside the body this condition is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. It can occur in any part of the body but usually, it occurs in the thigh and leg veins.

If this condition left untreated it can causePulmonary Embolisms, a life-threatening disease.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain in the affected leg
  • Leg cramping and soreness
  • Red or discolored skin
  • Feeling of warmth in the affected leg

AV Fistula and permcath (dialysis related operations)

AV fistula is a connection between an artery (blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart) and vein (blood vessel carrying blood to the heart). Vascular surgeons are best equipped to do an AV fistula, as they deal with blood vessels exclusively day in and day out. Perm cath insertion may also be required for dialysis which are best done by the vascular surgeons under ultrasound and x-ray guidance.

If an AV fistula is failing or is having low flows, then, vascular surgeon should be consulted to do an angiogram and angioplasty of the fistula to revive the fistula (similar to angiogram and angioplasty in heart). Also, angiogram and angioplasty of the veins in the chest may sometimes be required for perm cath insertion if these veins are narrowed.

Mesenteric ischemia

This means reduction in blood supply to the intestines which can cause reduction in absorption of food leading to malabsorption and pain in stomach.

Signs and symptoms

  • Pain in tummy especially after eating food.
  • Loss of appetite, loss of weight

Aneurysm

This condition refers to the enlargement of an artery which occurs when the arterial wall becomes weak.

Aneurysm doesn’t show any symptoms. Usually, Aneurysm shows symptoms at a later stage when the artery becomes very large or ruptured.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Severe pain at the site of aneurysm
  • Swelling of the area
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Clammy skin
  • Internal bleeding (In severe case)

Carotid artery disease

Carotid arteries are arteries supplying the brain. Narrowing or occlusion of the carotids can cause stroke / paralysis. These patients need opening up of those arteries by surgery or stenting.

Signs and symptoms

  • Dizziness / paralysis
  • Repeated episodes of stroke / temporary dizziness

Pulmonary Embolisms

This disease is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases. Pulmonary embolism is a disease that caused a blockage in the pulmonary artery which supplies blood to the lungs. It’s a very serious condition it can damage a person’s heart or other organs.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Chest pain (sharp & stabbing)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cough (it can be dry cough or cough with blood & mucus)

If you have symptoms of pulmonary embolism, it is very important that you come immediately to the hospital and get yourself checked as it can be a life threatening disease.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS)

This condition is very common among women. Pelvic Congestion Syndrome is caused when varicose veins are formed in the pelvic region.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Dull pain in the pelvic area
  • Painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
  • Abnormal bleeding during menstruation
  • Backache
  • Hip pain
  • Increased urination
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Fatigue
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Swelling of vagina
  • Varicose veins around vulva, legs or buttocks

The given signs and symptoms of vascular diseases may vary according to their position.

Is Vascular disease only can be cured only by surgery?

My answer is No, not at all. Many people have the misconception that vascular diseases can be cured only by surgery.

No, it is not true.

Besides surgery there are numerous treatment options are available for vascular diseases. In fact, I have treated many such cases which required neither any surgery nor any other treatment. They cured by using some medicines and exercises only.

What type of treatment a vascular patient requires totally depends upon the case.

As a vascular surgeon, I will advise all that health issues shouldn’t be neglected.

If you’re suffering from any kind of vascular disease, do not be afraid to go to the doctor for fear of operation. Surgeons or doctors never suggest surgery if not required.

So, see vascular surgeon before it gets too late.

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