Vascular Surgery

For many people, symptoms like swollen veins and leg pain are more than just a nuisance. They’re signs of a potentially serious blood vessel disorder such as chronic venous insufficiency or carotid artery stenosis.

The University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center’s vascular surgeons provide expert care for all types of vascular disorders in most parts of the body. We specialize in widening, unclogging, or repairing blood vessels in your neck, arms, abdomen, kidneys, pelvis, or legs.

If you have a chronic condition like peripheral artery disease (PAD), we can help you reduce or reverse your symptoms. By getting your vascular condition under control, you’ll lower your risk of complications such as heart attack, stroke, and limb amputation—and you’ll function and feel better.

You can also have confidence in our team if you need emergency treatment for a sudden problem, like an aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection. That’s because we offer more treatment options for more complex or life-threatening vascular problems than any other medical center in Iowa.

Complete, one-stop care for vascular disease

Our vascular surgeons can help you avoid surgery by getting your symptoms under control with nonsurgical treatments. These include:

  • Lifestyle changes: You can significantly improve your symptoms and prevent your condition from getting worse by making lifestyle changes. These include exercising, losing weight, quitting smoking, and getting Type 2 diabetes under control.
  • Medication: Prescription drugs can help you lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, which lowers your risk of vascular problems. Some drugs help prevent blood clots or plaque build-up in your blood vessels. And other drugs reduce pain caused by vascular problems in the legs, so you can walk more easily.
  • Cardiac rehab: Our medically supervised cardiac rehab program, which includes a 12-week customized exercise plan, provides the support you need to improve your heart and vascular health.
  • Wound care: Our vascular surgeons are trained to treat ischemic ulcers and other chronic wounds caused by vascular disorders. We also provide wound and stump care following limb amputation.

Instead of having to visit several specialists, you can get all the care you need—from blood thinners to wound care—from your UI Heart and Vascular Center vascular surgeon. Your vascular surgeon can also provide more advanced treatment for your condition.

Advanced treatments for vascular disease

If nonsurgical treatments don’t help or stop working, or if you develop a life-threatening vascular problem, you may need advanced care. Our vascular surgeons offer all the latest treatments, including open vascular surgery and less invasive procedures.

Endovascular treatments

Our vascular surgeons treat many blood vessel problems with minimally invasive endovascular procedures. Instead of making large surgical incisions in your body, we guide flexible tubes (catheters) through your blood vessels until we reach the one that’s damaged. Once the catheter is in place, we use it to perform or deliver treatments.

Our endovascular services include:

  • Angioplasty: We guide a catheter into a diseased artery, then inflate a special balloon. The balloon flattens any plaque and widens the artery so blood can flow through more easily.
  • Stent placement: We use a catheter to insert a tiny mesh tube (stent) inside a narrowed blood vessel. Once the stent is in place, it keeps the blood vessel propped open.
  • Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR): We place a stent inside the weakened portion of an artery to reinforce the artery wall, preventing it from bursting. This procedure can be used to treat both abdominal aortic aneurysms and thoracic aortic aneurysms.
  • Thrombolysis: This procedure gets rid of blood clots inside veins and arteries. Your surgeon will can dissolve the clot by injecting medication into your blood vessel or break up the clot and remove it using a special machine.
  • Transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR): This innovative new treatment for carotid artery stenosis lets us remove plaque build-up and implant a stent without surgery. It also reduces the risk of stroke associated with more invasive carotid artery treatments.

Vascular surgery procedures

In some cases, the best treatment for a vascular disorder is traditional, open surgery. For example, some people aren’t candidates for endovascular aneurysm repair due to the size or location of their aneurysm.

We offer the full range of surgical procedures, including:

  • Aortic aneurysm repair: We replace a weakened section of your aorta with a tube made of special fabric. This helps prevent the aorta from bursting.
  • Dialysis access surgery: For people with kidney failure, we create an access point to connect to a dialysis machine. This access point is called an arteriovenous fistula or graft.
  • Endarterectomy: During this treatment for clogged arteries, we make an incision in the part of the body containing the problem artery. Then we open the artery and remove the plaque that’s built up inside. When we use this procedure to treat carotid artery stenosis (blocked carotid arteries), it’s often referred to as a carotid endarterectomy.
  • Rib resection: During this treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome, we remove part, or all, of your first rib bone. This helps reduce compression on blood vessels and nerves near your collarbone.
  • Vascular bypass surgery: We take one of your own healthy blood vessels, or we create a new one with synthetic material, and attach both ends to a clogged artery. This allows blood to bypass the blockage.

Our vascular surgeons perform hundreds of these procedures each year, making them some of the most experienced providers in Iowa.

Vascular surgery tests and treatments:

  • Angioplasty
  • Ankle/brachial index (ABI) test
  • Aortic aneurysm repair
  • Arterial duplex ultrasound
  • Carotid artery duplex scan
  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Carotid stenting
  • Dialysis access surgery
  • Endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR)
  • First rib resection
  • Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement
  • Peripheral aneurysm repair (PVAR)
  • Phlebectomy
  • Provocative testing
  • Renal duplex ultrasound
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Stent placement
  • Thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair (TEVAR)
  • Thrombectomy
  • Thrombolysis
  • Transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR)
  • Vascular bypass surgery
  • Vascular ultrasound
  • Venous ablation

Vascular surgery conditions treated:

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Nationally recognized aortic aneurysm care

We’ve earned the Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Certification for aortic aneurysm repair. This certification confirms we meet or exceed strict standards of care that enhance patient safety and recovery.

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