Debilitating Leg Pain from Peripheral Vascular Disease Gone after Minimally Invasive Surgery
A leisurely walk along a fishing pier on a recent vacation with his wife would not have been possible for Kevin Dougherty earlier this year. That’s because the 62-year-old retiree was experiencing claudication—or too little blood flow—in his right leg, which in turn caused pain and cramping when Kevin walked even very short distances.
A lifelong smoker who had previously undergone a carotid endarterectomy for plaque build-up and blockage in the carotid artery in his neck, Kevin Dougherty knew the underlying cause of his constant leg pain was likely peripheral vascular disease (PVD). The potentially serious but treatable circulation problem occurs when the vessels that supply blood flow to the legs are narrowed. PVD is typically caused by atherosclerosis, or plaque build-up inside the vessel walls.
Kevin, despite living in Bethany Beach, Del., knew exactly who he wanted to treat his condition—Edward Woo, MD, an internationally known surgeon who leads the vascular surgery program at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. Kevin met Dr. Woo during a previous procedure, while they were both living in Pennsylvania. In fact, Dr. Woo’s brother repaired Kevin’s congenital heart valve defect years earlier.
After confirming peripheral vascular disease with diagnostic testing, Dr. Woo brought Kevin to MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Here, he placed stents, or thin, wire mesh tubing, to help keep the vessel open in Kevin’s right upper leg. The blockage was reached through a small puncture in the groin area. The same-day procedure in March allowed Kevin to walk out of the hospital with less pain and cramping than when he walked in.
“A lot of people may be experiencing leg pain and not know the cause of it,” explains Dr. Woo. “If you have any concerns, it is important to talk to your doctor or make an appointment to see a vascular specialist. Without treatment, severe PVD can lead to worsening conditions, including dead tissue, gangrene, and even possible amputation
of a limb.”
Kevin is grateful for both Dr. Woo’s care and expertise. “The amount of respect I have for Dr. Woo and his staff is immeasurable,” he says. “He is an amazing doctor, and I would recommend him to anyone.”
“My right leg feels great,” he adds. “Before, I couldn’t even walk a block. Now I can walk a half mile or more, and I try my best to keep up with my six grandchildren.”
MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute currently has a team of experienced vascular surgeons and physicians at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of peripheral vascular disease (see box at right), schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at 202-877-3627.
Symptoms of Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) Include:
- A change in color or temperature of the limbs
- Pain or cramping in the legs when walking or at rest
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- A new, long-lasting sore in the foot or leg
- Diminished pulses in the legs and feet
- Thickened, opaque toenails
You may be at risk for vascular disease if you:
- Are age 50 to 80
- Have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Have a history, or family history, of heart disease
- Are obese or physically inactive
To detect the Peripheral Vascular Disease early, MedStar Health has partnered with Dare to C.A.R.E. to offer FREE vascular screenings. Screenings are quick and pain-free, using ultrasound technology. Schedule your screening today, at 410-573-9483 ext. 202 or 203.