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    What Is a Vascular Surgeon and Why Might You Need One?

    H. Simon Tran, MD, RVT, RPVI Vascular Surgeon with The Heart Group 02/02/2022
    Your body has a complex network of veins and arteries called the vascular system that serves to carry blood to and from the heart. If you have problems or disease impacting this vital system, you’ll want to see an expert — a vascular surgeon, like me. 

    The vascular system is how oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your body tissues. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the body. Veins are blood vessels responsible for carrying blood low in oxygen from the body back to the heart for reoxygenation. Without oxygen, no part of the body can function, and conditions like blood clots or hardening of the arteries can obstruct blood flow. 

    Vascular surgeons employ treatments ranging from medical management and noninvasive procedures to complicated surgeries. We treat veins and arteries throughout the body, except for the brain and heart, which are handled by other specialists.

    Despite the name, vascular surgeons do more than surgery. We advise patients on various ways to treat and manage vascular issues, whether that be by medication or lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. The goal is always to match the patient with the best treatment option. In fact, many patients don’t require surgery, and those who can make changes to their lifestyle may be able to go without an operation indefinitely.

    If it is determined that surgery is the best option, many interventions we perform are minimally invasive endovascular procedures that typically only require a small incision. The advantages of minimally invasive procedures include less pain, faster healing, less risk of complications and reduced scarring.

    Rest assured, if you’ve been referred to a board-certified vascular surgeon like me due to a vascular condition, your care is being placed in the hands of an expert capable of a full spectrum of treatments for circulation disorders. 

    Vascular diagnoses I see include:
    • Occlusion and stenosis of arteries and veins (not the heart)
    • Carotid stenosis
    • Ischemia of lower/upper extremities 
    • Renal artery stenosis
    • Abdominal aneurysm
    • Mesenteric artery stenosis
    • Pulmonary embolism
    • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

    I also treat patients with May Thurner syndrome and Paget Schroetter syndrome.

    Due to the nature of vascular surgery, testing is required before a patient is seen so that the results can guide decisions on the best course of treatment. 

    Testing ordered may include:
    • Carotid Doppler
    • Iliac aorta ultrasound
    • Renal doppler
    • Mesenteric doppler
    • Arterial doppler of upper and lower extremities
    • Venous doppler of upper and lower extremities
    • Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) with runoffs
    • Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

    Surgeries I perform include:
    • Carotid endarterectomy and carotid stenting
    • Transcarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR)
    • Upper and Lower extremity angiogram, arteriogram, atherectomy, stenting
    • Renal angiogram, arteriogram, atherectomy, stenting
    • Abdominal/Iliac stenting
    • Mesenteric stenting
    • Amputations
    • Vein bypass
    • Endovascular aortic repair using stents (EVAR, FEVAR, PEVAR)
    • Open Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) repair
    • Embolectomy
    • Thrombolysis
    • Vertebral artery stenting
    • Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter placement and retrieval
    • Saphenous vein stripping
    • Vascular trauma repair
    • Temporal artery biopsy
    • Skin grafting
    • Coil embolization

    Vascular disease is more common among older patients, but can occur at any age. If you are experiencing potential signs and symptoms of vascular disease, including pain in the thigh, calf or buttocks while exercising or walking; darkening of skin on the legs; painful or bulging veins; swelling in the extremities, or wounds that heal slowly or not at all, please talk to your provider about a referral.

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