Female professional doctor examining elderly old male patient

Seeking clarity on vascular surgery how vascular conditions are diagnosed and treated? In this guide, we explore the routes healthcare providers take to uncover vascular diseases and the surgical and medical interventions that follow. From initial consultations and non-invasive tests to potential surgical remedies, we outline what patients can expect every step of the way—for an informed path to vascular health.

Key Takeaways


Vascular conditions affect the arteries, veins, and capillaries, and are diagnosed using a combination of family history, lifestyle examination, and non-invasive tests like the ankle-brachial index and circulation evaluations.

Treatment options range from lifestyle changes and medication to minimally invasive procedures like angioplasty, stenting, and more complex surgical interventions for severe cases.

Cutting-edge technology and innovative treatments are essential in managing vascular health, with a focus on patient-centered care that emphasizes a swift recovery and an improved quality of life.

Understanding Vascular Conditions


The expansive network of the vascular system, comprising arteries, veins, and lymph vessels, serves as the lifeline of the human body, ensuring that blood flow reaches every corner with efficiency. Just like a river system or city water utilities—it must be kept clear and flowing. But when vascular conditions strike, they can choke off vital supply lines, leading to tissue damage, or worse, catastrophic events like strokes.

Carotid artery disease can be a significant factor in stroke risk. This guide will help us understand vascular conditions more deeply and offer insights into managing these health concerns effectively.

Where is The Carotid Artery?


The carotid arteries are vital vessels located on each side of your neck, responsible for delivering a substantial portion of blood to your brain. This pair of arteries branches off from the aorta, the main highway of blood transport from the heart. The carotid artery bifurcates into two paths: the internal carotid artery, which continues upward to supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain, and the external carotid artery, which provides blood to the face and scalp. Due to their crucial role in cerebral circulation, the health of the carotid arteries is paramount in preventing strokes and ensuring that the brain receives the nutrients it needs to function optimally.

Defining Vascular Disease


Vascular disease encompasses a wide range of conditions that impact the blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries. These diseases can attack the arteries that shuttle blood from the heart, the veins that bring it back, and the capillaries where the exchange of life-giving oxygen and nutrients takes place.

From the narrowed arteries in peripheral artery disease to the compromised blood flow in renal artery disease, the variety of these conditions, including peripheral arterial disease and peripheral vascular disease, is as vast as the vascular system itself.

The Spectrum of Vascular Diseases


A myriad of vascular diseases illustrates the many ways in which our circulatory system can become compromised. Vascular disease symptoms, such as varicose veins and spider veins, manifest as visible signs of venous disease. These often bring discomfort and swelling to the list of concerns. Chronic venous insufficiency is another condition that affects the blood vessels, leading to improper blood flow. The buildup of plaque in peripheral artery disease narrows blood vessels, reducing blood flow that can rob our extremities of health.

In the case of aortic aneurysms, bulging vessel walls have the possibility of rupturing. This could become an urgent call for surgical intervention. Lymphedema and fibromuscular dysplasia are two more types of vascular diseases, each playing their part in the narrative of vascular health.

Initial Diagnostic Measures for Vascular Health


When assessing vascular health, doctors begin by looking for early signs of vascular conditions. They examine lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise because these can both conceal and indicate the presence of vascular disease. The process involves vein screenings and various tests to evaluate the blood vessels for any potential issues.

Vascular Health Screening


Many factors play a part in determining your vascular health. This is often the first step in our treatment process, where one of our vascular doctors in Nashville or Middle Tennessee, will sit down with you and thoroughly review your vascular health.

The initial vascular health screening will review the following factors that could be influencing or causing your vascular disease symptoms.

  • Your past and current vascular health
  • Diet
  • Exercise and activity levels
  • Sleep schedule
  • Previous surgeries to identify procedures that may have damaged your vascular system
  • For women: pregnancy history and menopause
  • Bodyweight
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Age
  • Smoking history
  • Alcohol use
  • Family history of vascular conditions

Because vascular disease is caused by several factors that add up over time, we first want to identify where your lifestyle might need to change. Even if you need serious treatment such as vascular surgery, the best results will come when you make intentional changes to improve your health.

The Role of Family History and Lifestyle


However, our habits and choices are not the only factors in our vascular health. Genetics also play a role, as our family history can indicate a higher likelihood of vascular diseases. Early lifestyle decisions can set the stage for our vascular health as we age.

Moreover, we can’t overlook lifestyle factors such as obesity and diabetes, which are significant contributors to vascular complications.

Non-Invasive Diagnostic Tests


Our approach to identify vascular conditions, we utilize an array of non-invasive tests, which explore the body without requiring any incisions. These tests include:

  • Ankle-brachial index: compares blood pressure in different limbs to uncover any discrepancies that may signal blockages or blood flow issues
  • Blood pressure measurements: provide valuable insights into the health of our blood vessels
  • Circulation evaluations: assess the overall circulation in the body

These non-invasive tests are important tools in diagnosing and monitoring vascular conditions.

Arterial Physiological Testing and Pulse Volume Recordings harness the power of blood pressure cuffs and ultrasound to assess the flow of life through our arteries and veins.

Ankle-Brachial Index


This is another physiology test that does not involve x-rays or imaging. For an ankle/brachial index test, we’ll compare your blood pressure from your arms to the blood pressure from your ankle. Most often, we use your ankle-brachial index to check for peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Typical Test Results And What They Mean



An index rating in this range usually means that you have no blockage. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms of PAD or another vascular disease, your doctor may have you go through another ankle-brachial index test after walking on a treadmill for a few minutes.


An index within this range indicates that you have borderline vascular disease or borderline PAD.

0.90 OR LESS

If your index rating falls below 0.90, then you have PAD. At this point, your doctor may recommend further testing to better understand the blockage of your veins or arteries.

Arterial Doppler with Segmental Pressures Upper and Lower Extremities: This test involves taking blood pressures from different levels of your legs or arms. We also record waveforms of the blood flow to determine the quality of the blood flow. The blood pressures and waveforms help determine where any arterial narrowing is located.

Our vein experts use this test as a next-level arterial ultrasound exam. After having you walk on a treadmill for around five minutes, your doctor or nurse will examine the arteries in your arms and legs to check for blockages.

Usually, we perform this test after taking an ankle-brachial index.

Raynaud’s Testing


The Surgical Clinic is proud to operate an ICAVL accredited vascular laboratory where we provide diagnosis and treatment for all ranges of vascular diseases, including Raynaud’s Disease. This rare condition usually presents as numbness and discoloration in the fingertips.

One test we often use to test for this condition is called nail fold capillaroscopy. During this test, your doctor will examine the tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, under your fingernails. Depending on the results of this test, your doctor may order additional testing.

Advanced Diagnostic Techniques


When vascular conditions necessitate a more thorough examination, we rely on advanced diagnostic techniques. The frontiers of imaging have been pushed by innovations like phase-contrast MRI and computational fluid dynamics, giving us a window into the nuanced dance of blood flow within our vessels. Ultrasound testing, particularly duplex ultrasonography, crafts color-rich maps of our circulatory system, revealing the presence of any blockages that dare impede the flow.

And when the complexity of conditions like aortic aneurysms calls for a sophisticated response, these advanced imaging techniques are the trusted tools in the hands of surgeons.

Imaging the Vascular System


Imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance angiography in both noncontrast and contrast-enhanced forms, form the core of vascular condition diagnosis, offering a comprehensive view of our blood vessels. High-resolution vessel wall imaging MRI delves even deeper, offering a microscopic view of the walls of our vessels and aneurysms, aiding in distinguishing between various vascular diseases.

For the most intricate of cases, digital subtraction angiography stands as the gold standard, bringing forth a fusion of technology and clarity to diagnose and treat neurovascular diseases.

Functional Testing for Blood Flow


As we continue with diagnosis, we utilize functional testing to provide real-time performance metrics of the vascular system. The Arterial Doppler test zeroes in on the location of arterial narrowing, revealing the hidden obstacles to blood flow.

Complementing this, the Arterial Doppler with Segmental Pressures test takes a comprehensive approach, measuring blood pressures at various points along the limbs to decipher the vascular map of health.

Treatment Options for Vascular Conditions


Our approach to tackling vascular diseases is as diverse as the conditions we face. The treatment landscape offers a medley of vascular disease treatments, including:

  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Medications
  • Minimally invasive procedures
  • Surgical interventions

Each treatment option is tailored to the specific needs of the patient, ensuring the best possible outcome.

From dietary adjustments to medications or surgeries, treatments are customized to address the specific challenges of each vascular condition.

Managing with Medication and Lifestyle Adjustments


Combating vascular diseases typically involves a two-pronged strategy—using medications to manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and implementing lifestyle changes to bolster the body’s defenses. A diet rich in heart-healthy choices protects us from the dangers of excessive fat, cholesterol, and salt. Simultaneously, engaging in regular exercise serves as a strong defense against obesity, which is a known accomplice in the development of heart and vascular diseases.

Together, medication and lifestyle adjustments form a robust alliance in maintaining the delicate balance of vascular health.

Minimally Invasive Procedures


For those who prefer to avoid the intensity of traditional surgery, minimally invasive procedures present a viable alternative. These modern solutions, including angioplasty, stenting, and vein ablation, create minimal disruption yet are effective against vascular diseases.

Angioplasty involves inflating a small balloon inside an artery to open up the vessel. Stents are then often inserted to keep the artery open. Stent-grafts, combining a stent with a synthetic graft, are used in more complex cases to treat aneurysms or severe arterial blockages, aiming for long-term success.

Surgical Interventions


However, some vascular conditions are so severe that they require surgical intervention. Angioplasty and bypass surgeries are critical procedures that aim to restore proper blood flow in arteries and veins compromised by disease.

Aortic aneurysms, fibromuscular dysplasia, and vasculitis are examples of conditions that may necessitate surgery to prevent life-threatening complications like aneurysm rupture or severe vessel inflammation.


What Is The Most Common Vascular Surgery?


The most common vascular surgery procedures include:

  • Carotid artery surgery
  • Lower limb revascularization
  • Varicose vein surgery
  • Angioplasty
  • Stenting
  • Fistula placement or dialysis access surgery
  • Aneurysm repair surgery
  • Arterial bypass

Vascular Surgery Process


Vascular surgery is a step-by-step process designed to maximize patient outcomes. It involves consultations, the surgery itself, and post-operative care. Surgeons discuss risks and benefits before surgery, and aftercare is closely monitored to promote recovery.

Before Surgery


Pre-surgery steps include:

  • Reviewing medical history and symptoms
  • Providing pre-surgery instructions, including medication management and fasting
  • Preparing the patient for the procedure



The surgery is performed with precision, using anesthesia to ensure patient comfort. Post-surgery, patients are monitored in the ICU and are encouraged to start moving as soon as possible to aid recovery.

Carotid Endarterectomy (Cea)

This surgery focuses on removing plaque from the artery’s wall in order to prevent or reduce the risk of stroke.

Carotid Angioplasty And Stenting (Cas)

This surgical procedure is another form of stroke prevention surgery. However, instead of removing plaque, this surgery focuses on re-enforcing the walls of the arteries in order to create unimpeded blood flow.

A surgeon will place a tiny wire-based structure in the artery, called a stent, to keep the artery open.

Lower Limb Revascularization

This surgery is used to relieve and improve symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD). To achieve revascularization, a surgeon may use either arterial bypass or angioplasty techniques to restore proper blood flow.


One of the most effective and common types of vascular surgery. This surgical procedure focuses on removing plaque from the vein walls by using a tiny balloon to scrape away the plaque.

Dialysis Access

For patients that need dialysis treatment, an access port called a fistula can be placed to make dialysis easier. However, it usually takes a few months for the fistula to grow large and strong enough to support regular hemodialysis.

Aneurysm Repair

In order to repair an aneurysm, a vascular surgeon will replace the stretched-out section of the blood vessel with a synthetic graft. In order to see the exact size and location of the aneurysm, dye will be injected into your blood vessels. The dye will react to imaging technology so our vascular surgeons can work with an accurate image of your veins or arteries.

Arterial Bypass

Like a lower extremity bypass, a surgeon can perform an arterial bypass anywhere else in your body. This surgery is effective for treating PAD and other vascular diseases.

Trans Carotid Artery Revascularization

Also known as TCAR, this procedure is used to treat carotid artery disease for patients who need minimally invasive options. TCAR uses special technology and techniques to minimize the risk of strokes and other complications from surgery and has been shown to produce excellent results.

After Surgery


Post-operative care is crucial. It includes follow-up appointments, reintroduction of physical activity, and comprehensive care for wound healing and pain management.

Contact The Surgical Clinic in Tennessee


If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms or have concerns about vascular health, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Surgical Clinic in Tennessee. Our team of experienced vascular specialists is dedicated to providing personalized care and the most advanced treatment options available. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward optimal vascular health. Your journey to a healthier life is just a phone call away.