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What is peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) develops when your arteries become clogged with plaque, which narrows and hardens them. This restricts your blood flow and causes a variety of problems. Peripheral artery disease usually affects your legs or arms, but can also develop in your abdomen and head. Some of the common signs of PAD include:

  • Leg cramping
  • Your feet, lower legs, hands, or arms are cold
  • Numbness and weakness in your extremities
  • Body hair and nail growth slows
  • Skin becomes shiny or discoloured
  • Sores on your feet or legs don't heal
  • Reduced pulse in your extremities
  • Erectile dysfunction in men

Your symptoms may be worse when you're lying down or resting. Many patients say their pain and numbness interferes with their sleep.

What causes peripheral artery disease?

PAD and atherosclerosis develop when plaque builds up on the inside of your arteries. While your family history contributes to your risk of peripheral artery disease, other factors also increase your chances of developing the conditions. For example, you have a higher risk of peripheral artery disease if you:

  • Smoke
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Are overweight or obese

Your risk of PAD also increases with age. If you have any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment to find out what's causing them and get appropriate treatment.

Arterial Disease - Image 1

How is peripheral artery disease treated?

At Image Guided Health, Dr. Burfitt provides expert, customized treatments for PAD. He uses minimally invasive techniques to open your arteries and increase your circulation.

All of Dr. Burfitt's procedures are performed with tiny tubes (catheters) that he inserts through a 3mm nick in your skin into the arteries. He uses low-dose real-time X-ray imaging to guide the catheter through your blood vessels to the blockage. Most narrowings or blockages are opened up with a balloon (angioplasty). A stent can also be deployed to hold open the widened channel.

When your treatment is complete, the catheter is removed and the tiny incision sealed. These minimally invasive procedures are safer and have a shorter recovery times than traditional surgical treatments for PAD.

If you're concerned about peripheral artery disease and are looking for expert, minimally invasive treatments, call or email Image Guided Health today to arrange an appointment.

Arterial Disease - Image 2


An aneurysm is an abnormal bulge or ballooning in the wall of an artery. This occur when the artery wall becomes diseased and weakened. The pressure of the blood within the artery causes the diseased wall to bulge out and thin like a balloon.

The biggest risk of an aneurysm is rupture resulting in major life threatening internal bleeding.

Another risk is clot forming within the aneurysm, which then travels elsewhere to block an artery downstream (also known as an embolus)

Common locations for aneurysms are:

Small vessel aneurysms

  • Spleen
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Brain - treated by specialist neuro interventional radiologists

Large vessel aneurysms

  • Aorta - main artery from the heart
  • Pelvis - the iliac arteries that take blood to the legs and pelvis organs
  • Popliteal - main artery behind the knee

Small vessel aneurysm

Small vessel aneurysms of the spleen, kidneys and liver occur with no clear cause in many people, alternatively as a result of injury, infection or another disease process.

To prevent rupture and life threatening bleeding, the aneurysm can be filled with tiny platinum coils that clot the blood within the aneurysm, excluding it from blood flow and pressurisation.

At both St Mary's Hospital and the private sector, Dr Burfitt has been practicing these minimally invasive techniques since 2007 and is a recognised expert in this area.

Large vessel aneurysms

Large vessel aneurysms of the aorta, pelvic and popliteal arteries can now be treated with a minimally invasive procedure which re-lines the vessel with a covered stent-graft. This excludes the aneurysm preventing rupture and maintains normal flow. This also known as EndoVascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR).

Dr Burfitt is a world expert in EVAR and the more complex form of Fenestrated EVAR, having taught these techniques to interventional radiologists and vascular surgeon in Europe, Australia, North and South America. He is also a consultant for Terumo Aortic Ltd, manufacturer of EVAR and Fenestrated EVAR stent grafts.

Dr Burfitt has also presented at numerous international conferences and published scientific articles on Fenestrated EVAR. He works closely with his vascular surgery colleagues to provide the complex aortic aneurysm service at St Mary's NHS Hospital, Paddington.