Peripheral artery disease (PAD), sometimes called peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or peripheral arterial disease, is a common but serious circulatory condition. It develops when the peripheral arteries — those outside the heart — become clogged with fatty deposits (plaque), causing them to narrow and reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the muscles.

Expert Care for PAD

Our experts often treat patients with complex vascular problems that other health care facilities are unable to treat. As part of an academic medical center, we offer best practice treatments based on research and clinical trials.

The Peripheral Artery Disease Program offers specialized care to meet the individual needs of our patients. And, we use electronic medical records to keep all information about a patient in one place and convenient to access. This makes it easier for the physician care team to communicate and collaborate about how best to care for the patient. Our specialists also work closely with referring physicians to deliver the best possible treatment.

A Common, but Serious, Condition

PAD is a serious but treatable condition. It can cause leg pain and numbness and increase the risk of infection, but some people may have no symptoms until the disease has progressed. Because PAD can be caused by underlying atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), even mild cases without symptoms, can increase a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke and renal artery disease. Read more about PAD signs and symptoms.


Latest Approaches to Diagnosing PAD

As part of an academic medical center, we are at the forefront of new ways to diagnose PAD and other vascular diseases. This includes diagnostic CT angiography and a non-invasive vascular ultrasound lab where certified technologists conduct tests to assess blood flow and locate blockage in blood vessels. Learn more about diagnosing PAD.

Our team of nationally recognized physician experts in vascular surgery, vascular medicine, cardiology and interventional radiology works together to provide a full range of treatment choices for PAD.

Peripheral Artery Disease Treatment

Our specialists are up-to-date on the latest research findings and treatment techniques for peripheral artery disease (PAD) and all vascular disease conditions. Team members collaborate to deliver integrated care. Each treatment approach has risks and benefits, and we compare various techniques for each patient to provide the most appropriate therapy.

Treatment for PAD may involve lifestyle changes to reduce risk, treating the limb(s) to reduce disease progression, treatment to save the limb(s) and therapies to prevent the associated risk of heart attack or stroke. Some patients need a combination of therapies. In some cases, minimally invasive endovascular procedures or vascular surgery may be necessary. Non-invasive treatments for PAD, also called peripheral vascular disease (PVD), include:

  • Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise are important steps to help stop the progression of PAD and relieve some of its symptoms. For some patients, this may be all they need to treat PAD.
  • Medical management: Prescription medications may prevent blood clots, improve blood flow and reduce discomfort when walking. Medications may also treat underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • PAD Rehabilitation: Our PAD Rehabilitation Program features one-on-one instruction and guidance from a team of rehabilitation professionals. The program aims to improve walking ability and decrease pain.

Minimally Invasive Endovascular Procedures

Minimally invasive endovascular procedures (catheterization procedures) treat vascular disease from inside the blood vessel, including many vascular problems that once required invasive surgery. As a result, patients experience reduced hospital and recovery time, and often experience significantly less pain.

Endovascular therapy uses catheter-based procedures and specialized equipment and techniques. These procedures require only a small incision, through which the physician inserts a thin catheter through the arm or groin. Using advanced imaging technology to visualize the path, physicians guide the catheter through the blockage and dilate the blockage by inflating a tiny balloon. Atherectomy may also be used — this technique utilizes a catheter tipped with a specialized device to strip plaque out of the blocked artery and increase the flow of blood through the area. A stent (wire mesh tube) may be placed in reopened segments to help keep the vessel open.

Bypass surgery and endarterectomy are two surgical treatment options for PAD.

Bypass Surgery

When PAD results in limb-threatening blockages in the legs, we may need to perform bypass surgery. This involves using a blood vessel (man-made or a natural vessel from another part of the body) and placing it around the segment of blocked vessel, creating a detour or bypass. Blood flow is redirected through the new blood vessel, bypassing the blood vessel that is damaged. In addition to the legs, bypass surgery can treat blockages in blood vessels in other parts of the body.


Endarterectomy is the surgical removal of obstructions from an artery that has narrowed or is blocked by plaque. A vascular surgeon makes an incision in the artery and removes the plaque in the artery’s inner lining to restore blood flow, then will usually sew a small patch on the artery to enlarge it. This procedure is most commonly done in the carotid arteries in the neck that deliver blood to the brain, but it is also done to treat other arteries in the legs.

Our Cardiology Team

Vascular Surgeon