The human body contains a vast network of blood vessels, called veins, arteries and capillaries, which supply blood to its organs, bones, muscles and tendons. The largest vessel is called the aorta; the smallest are known as capillaries. Arteries carry blood away from the heart; veins return it there. It takes just 20 seconds for blood, between nine and 12 pints in total, to circulate throughout the body’s vascular system, which measures an amazing 60,000 miles in length.
Sometimes, arteries become severely weakened, or narrowed or completely blocked by fatty deposits that restrict blood flow. This is called vascular or peripheral vascular disease. When medications fail to improve blood flow, vascular surgery or another type of less invasive treatment may be needed.
In some cases, vascular surgeons use non-surgical, or endovascular, treatment techniques of tiny, thin catheters and balloons in place of ‘open’ surgery. These are sometimes referred to minimally invasive or endovascular interventions and use tiny incisions in the leg to gain access to the artery or vein. The following are common conditions of the vascular system that may require surgery or an endovascular intervention: