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Blocked Aorta - Iliac Arteries

(known as aortoiliac occlusive disease)

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The aorta is the main blood vessel carrying oxygen rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The aorta originates at the left ventricle of the heart extending down to approximately the level of the belly button where it splits into two branches; the arteries at the split are now called the iliac arteries. These iliac arteries continue to branch into smaller arteries that run down the legs to the toes supplying blood to the tissues. As we age plaque builds up on the inside of the artery walls causing a narrowing or stenosis of the artery. This plaque which consists of fibrous tissue, cholesterol, and calcium can over time become quite hard, the process of this build up is referred to as atherosclerosis.

Aortoiliac occlusive disease most commonly occurs at the site where the aorta and iliac arteries split, but can also occur in the lower abdominal aorta alone or in either one or both of the iliac arteries. 

Symptoms of the disease

  • Intermittent claudication
  • Numbness, coldness, or pain in the legs even at rest
  • Development of small ulcers on the toes, heels or lower limbs

Investigation

  • ABPI – this is a non-invasive test that requires you to have the blood pressure taken individually on each of your arms and ankles. At the same time a hand held Doppler ultrasound will be used to record the blood pressure. The results will give an indication if there is a narrowing of the arteries.
  • Imaging – CTA or MRA’s may be used with contrast dye to highlight the artery structures to identify the blockage
  • Doppler ultrasound of the arteries.

Treatment

The position of the stenosis/ narrowing you have developed will determine the type of treatment required and the best choice of treatment will be discussed with you by your surgeon

Please click the links below to view some of the treatments available for this disease.

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