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Leg: PVD in the Iliac Arteries


There are four basic treatment options for patients with iliac artery stenosis.

Diet Modification and Exercise

Decreasing the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet in combination with walking exercises are the cornerstones of treating iliac artery stenosis. Your doctor will make specific dietary and exercise recommendations for you. Other life style changes may also need to be made, especially the discontinuation of smoking.

Medical Management

Medicine can be prescribed to help dilate the blood vessel in your legs in order to improve blood flow. Additionally, medications that help to lower your cholesterol and fats may be prescribed. If you have diabetes, your physician may recommend modifications to medications to help reduce your blood sugar levels.

Iliac Artery Bypass Surgery

A man-made graft, one of your own veins or a synthetic material will be used to act as a detour to create new channels to carry blood to the pelvis and legs.

Iliac Artery Balloon Angioplasty and Stenting

This procedure uses a small tube (catheter) with a small balloon on the end to open the narrowed iliac artery by compressing the plaque against the vessel wall. This process reduces the narrowing until it no longer interferes with blood flow. The balloon is deflated and removed from the artery.

In most cases, a stent, which is a metallic wire-mesh tube, is then placed into the opened artery. The size of a stent used is about 1 1/2 inch in length and 1/2 inch in diameter when fully expanded in the artery. When expanded, the stent acts as a brace to keep the artery open, restoring normal blood flow.

Over several weeks, the healthy inner lining of the artery will grow over the stent, permanently incorporating it into the vessel.

Be sure to ask your doctor to explain the risks and benefits of your treatment options and answer any questions you or your family may have.

Patients with one or more of the following characteristics might not be suitable candidates for stent placement:

  • Poor kidney function or severe high blood pressure
  • History of low number of white blood cells, low number of platelets or significant low number of red blood cells
  • Allergy or sensitivity to nitinol (nickel titanium alloy)

It is important to inform your doctor about your entire medical history, which includes all medications you are presently taking.