Researchers at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I., have reported that stent placement should be considered the standard of care for treating patients with abnormal circulation, or "ischemia" to the legs, due to obstruction of the iliac arteries. The iliac arteries are large arteries in the pelvis that supply blood to the legs. The study appears in the April issue of the journal Radiology.
Lower-extremity ischemia, a type of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), occurs when arteries in the abdomen or pelvis, called the aorta and iliac arteries, respectively, narrow or become completely blocked by the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque deposits. As a result, not enough oxygen-rich blood gets to the legs, causing cramps and pain and making it difficult to walk or exercise. Rarely, the condition becomes so severe that gangrene develops or amputation of the affected limb is necessary.
Until the introduction of the stent, a small metal tube, 10 years ago, the only way to open up such vessels was surgically, bypassing the blockage with a healthy vein or artery.
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