Do you suffer from swollen legs, pain while walking, or leg ulcers?

You may have peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, a condition in which the arteries are not delivering enough blood to the legs because of plaque collection or other blockage.

PAD causes a number of uncomfortable and even dangerous symptoms:

• Pain, numbness, heaviness, or aching in the legs when walking or climbing stairs that may ease when resting
• Cramping in the buttocks, thighs, calves, or feet
• Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all
• A pale or bluish color to the skin
• Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs

Take a quick survey now to see if you might have arterial or venous disease.

Start Survey

What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?


Most people are aware that arteries can develop plaque and blockages that affect your heart and put you at risk of a heart attack. The arteries in your legs can suffer from the same disease. The same risk factors for coronary artery disease that affect your heart, namely smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and lack of exercise can also lead to blockages to the arteries in your legs.

ARA’s Dr. Michael Nguyen explains PAD in more detail in this video interview .

Treatment of peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

At ARA our interventional radiologists can get you back on your feet with leading-edge treatments that clear your arteries so blood can flow to your legs. Healing and symptom relief begin immediately! These treatments have less risk, less pain, and less recovery time than traditional surgery and are covered by insurance.

Using techniques developed by interventional radiologists, ARA’s physician accesses the arteries by making a small nick in the skin and introducing a tiny catheter into an artery, usually in the groin. Though this access, they guide small wires and tubes to the site of the blockage where they deliver one or more of the treatments explained below. After the procedure, the tiny cut does not even need stitches and is covered with a small bandage.

There are multiple treatments that interventional radiologists use to restore blood flow to your legs:

Angioplasty uses inflatable devices called balloons to open up narrowed arteries. Various types of balloons are used in different situations, including balloons that stretch arteries open, metal-edged balloons that cut and break up calcium deposits, and drug-coated balloons that can prevent scarring and future narrowing of the artery.


Stenting uses small metal tubes to hold open narrowed arteries that are closing. Various types of stents are used, including two main categories: bare metal and drug-eluting.

Bare metal stents: These are made of simple metal mesh, which allows the body to coat the stent with cells that prevent new blood clots from forming; however, this approach increases the chance that the artery may become narrowed by scar tissue.

Drug-eluting stents: These are more modern and slowly administer medication to the blood vessel wall to prevent scar formation; but the medication also stops the body from coating the stent with protective cells that prevent new blood clots from forming. Patients who receive stents also need to be on clot-preventing medications related to aspirin called “anti-platelets” that reduce the chance of clots forming inside the stent.

A wire is advanced to the site of the blockage and a balloon is inflated to open the vessel. A stent is then placed permanently inside the vessel to keep it open.

An atherectomy uses a tiny catheter inserted into a blood vessel to navigate to and remove hard arterial plaque. The catheter features a metal tip that shaves away arterial material and opens the vessel, allowing blood to flow. An atherectomy is especially useful in cases where blockages occur around branches or in areas not easily fit with stents.

Thrombolysis delivers medication slowly, over 12-24 hours, to a blood clot through a thin tube that is inserted next to or within the clot. This treatment is usually enacted in an emergency because the body has not had enough time to respond by growing new blood vessels to bypass the blockage. The patient is hospitalized during the treatment and will be watched by nurses and doctors in the intensive care unit. Often, the clots will be dissolved but the artery will still be narrowed and additional treatments may be required.


When a blood clot suddenly blocks blood flow, a treatment known as a thrombectomy will remove the clot from the body using various medical tools that can draw out, pull out, or vaporize the clot. The method chosen depends on the preference of the physician and the location of the clot.

Will my insurance cover this procedure?

Generally, insurance companies will pay for peripheral artery disease treatment. Our interventional case coordinators will help you navigate the insurance process.

Start your journey now to a life free of painful leg problems.

Talk to an interventional coordinator about scheduling a consultation.

The interventional radiology team at ARA is here to help get you back on your feet! Please contact interventional coordinators at (512) 467-Xray (512-467-9729). Faxes can be sent to (512) 343-9099.

Take a quick survey now to see if you might have arterial or venous disease.

Start Survey

See ARA’s Dr. Michael Nguyen show how PAD treatment works.