Your blood vessels are part of a complex system. They help you to do ordinary things you may take for granted. From pain-free walking to calling a friend, your ability to move, think, and function well depends on your veins, arteries, and circulation working well, too. From your index finger to your toes, every part of your body requires moving, oxygen-rich blood flow to function.
Our highly skilled team specializes in conditions that involve healthy blood circulation. Together, we focus on veins and arteries in almost every part of your body except your heart and brain.
WVU Medicine vascular surgeons step in to find and treat the cause of symptoms or help you before silent threats become serious. Unchecked vascular conditions can lead to blocked arteries, unhealed wounds, ulcers, dying tissue, limb loss, or life-threatening emergencies, such as stroke or heart attack.
Our experts help to prevent complications and keep you well and healthy. We’ll assess and address poor blood flow and improve your overall health and quality of life.
WVU Vascular Program Quick Facts
- The only site in Northern WV to have been recognized by both VQI (Vascular Quality) as 3 stars and by US New & World report as High Performing for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair
- First in West Virginia to fix a thoracic aortic aneurysm using the Relay PRO implant.
- West Virginia’s only fully integrated minimally invasive limb salvage program for advance peripheral artery disease (PAD).
- The region’s busiest fenestrated endovascular aneurysm program, which provides minimally invasive treatment of juxtarenal and paravisceral aortic aneurysms.
- The region’s busiest Trans Carotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) program for the treatment of carotid stenosis thus allowing our surgeons to choose between stenting endarterectomy and TCAR the three approved modalities for treating carotid occlusive disease.
Centralized Care and Expertise
At WVU Medicine, our vascular surgeons and other specialists offer highly skilled and collaborative care. Exceptional teams work together in the innovative, 10-story Heart and Vascular Institute tower. WVU vascular doctors also see patients in convenient inpatient and outpatient locations near you.
We provide comprehensive care – from urgent treatment of blocked blood flow to long-term treatment plans that address all your health needs. The vascular team works closely with other specialties, ranging from cardiology to interventional radiology to rehabilitation experts. Our teams focus on your overall health to help you get and stay well.
Vascular conditions are the leading cause of limb loss. This is tragically common in West Virginia. It is due in part to conditions such as diabetes, obesity, kidney disease and lifestyle habits such as smoking.
Our vascular experts work with the Center for Limb Preservation – a distinguished WVU Medicine center of excellence. Learn more about this important center, including risk factors and how you can prevent limb loss.
One Center for Heart and Vascular Care
The uniquely designed Heart and Vascular Institute tower integrates cardiovascular and related specialties with high-level technology, teamwork and care. Our facilities include sophisticated procedure rooms, 10 operating rooms, clinics, offices and patient rooms – from ICU to step-down units and other levels of medical-surgical care – in one location.
Here, you and your family can get more done in one visit, from tests and imaging to seeing other care providers. We’ll work with your doctor and coordinate your care at every step.
Doctors operate in elegantly engineered hybrid surgical suites – the future of exceptional care. These environments enable a team of surgeons, interventional radiologists, nurses, anesthesiologists and technicians to work seamlessly together. Advanced imaging and other equipment allow us to perform a full range of procedures – from endovascular to open surgery – in one room.
Many complex vascular surgeries are now minimally invasive. These less invasive procedures spare surrounding tissue. That helps you feel better and get well sooner.
Conditions We Treat
Our focus is to keep blood vessels healthy and blood circulating. We also work with other WVU Heart and Vascular Institute Centers of Excellence to diagnose and treat a full range of cardiovascular and other conditions.
We’ll work as a team to address pain and restore your ability to walk or regain lost functions. With severe cases – such as traumatic injuries, gangrene, or other advanced disease and tissue damage – we’ll do all we can to preserve the limb. We work closely with WVU Medicine nephrologists (kidney), diabetes educators, WVU Medicine’s Comprehensive Wound Care Center, and other specialists as needed throughout your care.
Conditions we treat include:
- Aortoiliac occlusive disease. This is a blocked aorta – your body’s main blood vessel – or blockage in the iliac arteries, which supply blood to your legs and pelvic organs.
- Abdominal aortic and other aneurysm. This and other types of aneurysm involve a bulging, weak spot in any blood vessel of your body, which could rupture.
- Traumatic injuries. Automotive accidents, severe burns, military wounds, frostbite, or other traumas can cause vascular infection, injuries and limb loss.
- Atherosclerosis. This disease involves plaque buildup that restricts or blocks blood flow in your arteries.
- Carotid (brain) arterial disease. This condition narrows blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to your brain. We work with other WVU Heart and Vascular Institute Centers of Excellence to treat this, as well as coronary (heart) arterial disease.
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This condition is a slow, progressive circulation disorder that affects your brain, legs, and feet.
- Pulmonary (lung) embolism (PE). A blood clot that develops in a blood vessel in the leg or other part of your body can travel to a lung artery and abruptly block blood flow.
- Renovascular hypertension. High blood pressure can be caused by narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys.
- Varicose veins. Enlarged, twisted veins can develop throughout your body and often in your legs. They can become heavy and painful.
- Wounds. An open sore, incision or wound that won’t heal can be a severe health risk, leading to life-threatening infection. Wounds can involve ulcers, pressure sores, injuries, trauma, vascular disease, diabetes, circulation problems, burns, or other causes.
- Deep vein thrombosis. This is a blood clot that blocks a vein.
Services and Treatments
We offer a full range of preventive, medical, and surgical solutions for vascular and related conditions. WVU Medicine vascular experts provide timely diagnosis and treatment, and inpatient and outpatient care. Services range from evaluation to medical and surgical therapies, and rehabilitation.
Treatment is determined by evidence-based, best therapy guidelines tailored to your needs. Care may include basic or advanced, minimally invasive endovascular therapies, including:
- Arterial plaque removal
- Balloon angioplasty – a procedure that widens blood vessels with a balloon-tipped catheter
- Dialysis Access and Renal (Kidney) Care. This may include fistula, graft, or catheter placement; HeRO (hemodialysis reliable outflow) device placement; and percutaneous fistula and graft repair.
- Stenting – insertion of narrow tubes that provide structural blood-vessel support
- Atherectomy – surgeons trim blockages within an artery using a tiny device attached to a slim, tube-like catheter
- Trans-tibial (below the knee) and pedal (foot and arch circulation) interventions
WVU Medicine surgeons also perform open bypass vascular procedures when indicated. This procedure uses a graft to redirect blood flow. We also treat people with kidney disease, including creating and maintaining blood vessel access for dialysis.
Our surgeons are academic leaders who assist in training the next generation of surgeons to serve West Virginia citizens. We also partner with industry leaders to develop new technologies that improve vascular care. Many of our doctors participate in FDA-sponsored clinical trials. Eligible patients can choose to participate in testing leading-edge therapies.
We go the extra mile to educate patients, doctors and communities about how to prevent vascular problems, including limb loss. Our locations throughout this region keep valuable care accessible, especially to those in remote or rural locations. Steps like these help everyone to identify and treat problems sooner for longer, happier and healthier lives.
Your care team includes vascular surgeons, cardiologists, radiologists, specialized nurses, healthcare technology professionals, and others with high-level expertise. We work closely across disciplines to tailor care to your needs. Meet our team.
- Every year, 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke.
- Nearly six million die and another five million are left permanently disabled.
- Stroke is the second leading cause of disability globally.
Ischemic strokes account for 80-90% of strokes and an estimated 20-30% of these are caused by disease in the carotid arteries which carry blood to the brain. If left untreated, these blockages can fragment, flow to the brain, and lead to a potentially disabling stroke, also known as a “brain attack.” If blood flow is stopped for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen and brain cells can die, causing permanent damage.
Vascular disease in the carotid arteries of the neck
Vascular disease is caused by the build-up of fatty substances that collect and stick to the linings of your arteries, in a process known as atherosclerosis. You may also hear the terms “plaque”, “blockage”, “lesion”, or “stenosis”. As the plaque build-up continues, the internal lining of your artery thickens which causes the artery to narrow and limit blood flow to vital tissues and organs.
Some of the more commonly affected arteries are those located in the heart, legs, arms, neck, and kidneys. The symptoms from these blockages depend on what artery is affected and the severity of the blockage causing limited blood flow. The arteries in your neck, are called carotid arteries.
You should be screened for carotid artery stenosis if you have:
- Weakness, numbness, tingling or paralysis of the arm, leg, or face on one side of your body
- Trouble swallowing
- Loss of eyesight or blurry eyesight in one eye
- Dizziness, confusion, fainting, or coma
- Unexplained slurred or garbled speech
Sometimes, patients are screened for carotid artery stenosis if the doctor knows the patient has vascular disease elsewhere in the body. Blockages can also be found when your physician hears a sound through a stethoscope placed on the neck. The sound is caused by blood flowing past the blockage
What are the treatment options?
The most common treatment for severe carotid artery disease is a surgery called Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA), in which the surgeon makes an incision on your neck to access the affected artery, open the artery and remove the plaque. Your surgeon will then close the artery and the incision in your neck using stitches. For patients at high risk for the open surgical procedure, another option is transfemoral carotid angioplasty and stenting (TF-CAS). This minimally invasive alternative allows your physician to complete the procedure through a tube placed into the artery in your thigh.
A potential complication of both surgery and stenting is a stroke during the procedure itself. Studies have shown a higher risk of stroke during stenting as compared to surgery. The TCAR Procedure using the ENROUTE® Transcarotid Neuroprotection System is designed to reduce the risk of stroke while inserting the ENROUTE® Transcarotid Stent.
The TCAR Procedure: A less invasive and patient friendly option.
TCAR is a surgically inspired procedure and is designed to mimic the arterial access and safeguards of surgery. In carotid artery surgery, the arteries are clamped above and below the blockage to block blood flow and prevent plaque from traveling to the brain during treatment. Similarly, the ENROUTE® Transcarotid Neuroprotection System isolates the blockage from forward blood flow during stent placement by actually reversing blood flow away from the brain. Because the flow reversal method does not rely on a distally placed filter to capture emboli before they reach the brain, it collects both small and large debris.
What happens during the TCAR procedure?
The TCAR procedure is performed through a small incision at your neckline just above your clavicle. This incision is much smaller than a typical CEA incision. Our TCAR trained and certified surgeons will place a tube directly into your carotid artery and connect it to a system that will direct blood flow away from your brain, to protect against plaque that may come loose reaching your brain. Your blood will flow through the system and any material will be captured in a filter outside the body. Your filtered blood will then be returned through a second tube in your upper leg. After the stent is placed successfully, flow reversal is turned off and blood flow resumes in its normal direction.
What are some of the benefits of TCAR?
- minimally invasive
- faster recovery times
- reduced chance of complications vs. open surgery
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 855-WVU-CARE (855-988-2273).
Pain and discomfort in the legs or calf muscles can be a sign of arterial blockage and identifies patients at increased potential risk for heart attack or stroke. A condition called atherosclerosis occurs when plaque builds up inside of a person’s arteries, and it is the main cause of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Early diagnosis of PAD and treatment may help prevent heart attack or stroke.
What is peripheral artery disease?
PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, cholesterol deposits in the arteries, which results in narrowing of the artery. This narrowing or blockage prevents the flow of blood much like a blockage in a pipe. When the blood, which carries oxygen to vital organs and muscles, is not allowed to flow freely, organs and muscles can be damaged.
In the legs, this results in cramping or pain in the muscles of the lower leg causing a person to need to stop activity and rest allowing the muscles to recover. In the heart and the brain, these blockages can result in a heart attack or stroke. If an individual has blockages in one artery, they have a very good chance of having blockages in all of their arteries.
What are the symptoms?
Leg pain or cramping while walking, discoloration of the toes or feet, and sores or ulcers on the feet and toes can be signs of PAD.
Symptoms can be subtle and at times confusing. People often attribute the symptoms to “getting old” or arthritis. Mild cases can be a sign that problems exist in other arteries, too. If you’re experiencing leg pain, numbness, or cramping, don’t just assume it’s a normal part of aging, and see a doctor to be sure.
Who is at risk?
As we age, the risk of having PAD unfortunately increases. In fact, 30 percent of patients over the age of 70 will have PAD. Additionally, 30 percent of people between the ages of 50-69 who smoke or have diabetes will have PAD. People with a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also at increased risk of PAD.
How is peripheral artery disease diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will check for pulses in the legs and may conduct a painless exam that evaluates blood pressure in your legs to see how well your blood is flowing. Blood tests to measure cholesterol and check for diabetes may also be conducted or ultrasound to identify blocked or narrowed arteries.
What treatments are available?
Lifestyle changes, cholesterol or blood pressure medications, and procedures to restore blood flow can help relieve PAD symptoms. Without treatment, serious tissue damage, such as sores or gangrene, may occur from lack of blood flow to the limbs. In worst cases, amputation may be necessary.
WVU Medicine board certified vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists can open blocked arteries using the latest techniques such as:
- Minimally invasive balloon angioplasty
- Stent placement
- Atherectomy (a procedure to actually remove the blockage)
These procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, require no incision, and patients can resume normal activities within 24 hours. At WVU Medicine, we also continue to offer conventional bypass surgery to prevent amputation if needed.
Our Clinic Locations
WVU Heart & Vascular Institute – Wheeling
502 Cabela Dr
Reynolds Memorial Hospital
800 Wheeling Ave
Glen Dale, WV
If you think you might be at risk for PAD or you are experiencing possible symptoms, ask your doctor to refer you to a WVU Heart & Vascular Institute Board Certified Vascular Specialist.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): Less pain, less bruising, and faster recovery times in the treatment of venous reflux disease.
Varicose veins may be a sign of something more severe called venous reflux disease, which is two times more prevalent than coronary heart disease (CHD) and five times more prevalent than peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
Venous reflux disease may cause the following symptoms in the legs:
- Varicose veins
- Heaviness or tiredness
- Open skin sores
Treatment using the ClosureFastTM Procedure
The ClosureFastTM Procedure is a minimally invasive treatment that uses radiofrequency ablation (heat) to seal off the diseased vein so blood gets rerouted to nearby healthy veins. Highlights of the procedure include:
- Minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that can be performed under local anesthesia
- Lower rates of pain, bruising, and complications and a faster improvement in patient’s quality of life when compared to endovenous laser ablation
- The ClosureFastTM catheter’s segmental approach eliminates the need for continuous pull-back of the energy source, allowing for controlled and repeatable radiofrequency ablation
- Delivers a lower heat gradient of energy at around 120°C. In contrast, some laser treatments can reach temperatures of over 700°C during the procedure
- Average patient typically resumes normal activities within a few days following treatment
- Most patients report a noticeable improvement in symptoms within 1 to 2 weeks following procedure
For more information about radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of venous reflux disease, call 855-WVU-CARE (855-988-2273)
WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, Reynolds Memorial Hospital
WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center
WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital
WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital