Severe leg pain, slow-healing wounds, and cold lower limbs are many of the signs of the common circulatory condition periphery artery disease (PAD) in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. Left untreated, PAD can eventually lead to amputation.
Once you have decided to seek treatment for peripheral artery disease, the next step is to choose a physician that serves as your vascular partner. Unfortunately, there are far too many lower extremity amputations without any prior testing, such as non-invasive vascular studies, which is why it is important to seek a second opinion if you have been told amputation is your only option.
What Kind of Doctor Treats PAD?
While doctors may say they can treat PAD, not all will have the same level of experience or training. Your vascular partner could be a vascular and interventional radiologist or a vascular surgeon.
Vascular and Interventional Radiologists
Interventional radiologists are medical doctors with 6 or 7 years of additional training following medical school and use minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to treat diseases. Procedures that are performed by interventional radiologists are less risky and have a shorter recovery period when compare to open surgery. Vascular and interventional radiologists are certified in both diagnostic radiology and endovascular procedures (treatments).
Vascular surgeons are also highly-trained physicians who manage and address PAD, aortic aneurysms, carotid artery blockages for stroke prevention, and venous insufficiency. At Modern Vascular, both interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons are trained to treat PAD through minimally invasive endovascular procedures, which reduce recovery time and lower costs versus open vascular surgery. When choosing a vascular specialist you want to make sure you feel comfortable about your treatment options.
At Modern Vascular, our team of providers understands the importance of choosing the right vascular specialist for your needs, that is why our providers are leading experts in the endovascular treatment of peripheral arterial disease.
Things to Consider
You want to make sure that your vascular provider is knowledgeable of the disease that they intend to treat and that their main concern is helping their patients. Ultimately, choosing a vascular provider is a personal one, but here are some more things to consider:
With the advancement of review platforms, before you even meet a potential physician you can see how other patients feel about them. The best physicians will have a great reputation both with their patients as seen in the reviews and in the greater medical community with their peers. Do your research to identify their public reception and pay attention to how they handle unfavorable or negative situations. You can also ask your primary care physician if they have a recommendation.
Although time is of the essence in terms of getting your PAD treatment, another great way to support your decision as a vascular physician is if they are highly sought after. Are the vascular physicians busy? If they are experts in their field? Most likely they will be.
If you have any friends or family members who have had vascular surgery, you should ask them about their experiences. Their first-hand accounts of how it went, for better or worse, with their physician and procedures can add some great insight.
You want to choose a vascular physician who is just as passionate about their expertise as they are about you. Here at Modern Vascular, it is our mission to save limbs and lives. We are committed to innovation and research incorporating cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art technology into our everyday patient care to improve the lives of our patients. If your physician is recommending even a toe amputation, you owe it to yourself to get a second opinion from a doctor passionate about limb preservation.
Vascular Physician Experience
How experienced is the physician in the procedure you need? This is incredibly important in weighing your options. There are physicians who specialize in very specific procedures, while others perform a wide range. For the treatment of specific conditions like PAD, it might be more important to go with someone who has spent time perfecting their skills for PAD. At Modern Vascular, we treat and see hundreds of PAD patients each year and specialize in the care and treatment of those with this chronic disease.
You are making a limb-saving decision, in seeking treatment for PAD, so why shouldn’t you feel comfortable with the physician managing your procedure? Some people are willing to forgo comfort with a professional in favor of certifications and reputation. However, it is important that you are comfortable with anyone who will perform surgery on your body regardless of how notable the resume is. You should feel comfortable enough with your physician or advanced practice providers to speak candidly about your medical problems, and openly discuss all treatment options. The right fit will take the time to make sure you understand the associated risks and benefits.
Are There Other Options?
Not every patient requires a procedure and is important to choose a provider who treats PAD at all stages and is willing to try non-surgical medical management in less serious cases. At Modern Vascular, if you do not meet the criteria for revascularization and you have mild to moderate symptoms of claudication, your practitioner can put you on an At- Home Medical Management Program. Your practitioner will provide specific directions and tools for managing your PAD through lifestyle modification, which may include diet, exercise, quitting smoking, and medical monitoring.