Aortoiliac occlusive disease (AIOD) is the blockage of the abdominal aorta, the main blood vessel in your body, as it transitions into the iliac arteries. AIOD is also referred to as aortoiliac disease, aortic occlusion and iliac occlusion.
The iliac arteries are the branches that your aorta divides into near the belly button to provide blood to your legs and organs in your pelvis. Plaque buildup, within the walls of your blood vessels, typically causes iliac artery blockage. The most common cause of aortoiliac occlusive disease is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, genetic predisposition or obesity may cause this condition.
So it comes with no surprise that AIOD occurs most commonly in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). The aorta and iliac arteries are the second most common blood vessels to be affected by PAD, after the blood vessels in the thigh.
PAD usually links with diabetes and can occur in patients over 50, usually men. Moreover, PAD occurs in 12% to 20% of patients over age 65. Symptoms may be absent altogether or varied with aortoiliac occlusive disease; it’s a slow, sneaky and progressive circulation disorder.
Atherosclerotic plaque may trigger symptoms either by obstructing blood flow altogether or by breaking apart and directing a mass of debris to more distal blood vessels. If plaque breaks off and enters the bloodstream, serious blood clots can form. This is a red flag in terms of your health and requires the immediate attention of a vascular specialist.
More on Symptoms of Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease:
- They may be absent
- Pain or cramping when walking even short distances
- General fatigue
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Pain, coldness or numbness at rest in legs, toes and feet
- Decreased femoral pulses
- Slow wound healing in the legs
What to Do About AIOD
See an expert at Lam Vascular & Associates if you are having severe leg pain or suspect any symptoms of aortoiliac occlusive disease. In addition to asking all the pertinent questions regarding your medical health and history, Dr. Lam or Dr. Duran will perform a comprehensive physical exam. They may recommend tests including an ankle-brachial index and duplex ultrasound. If further testing is needed, a CT, MRI, or a catheter-directed angiogram may be ordered. Angiogram is an X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery.
Aortoiliac occlusive disease may be managed by reducing risk factors such as stopping smoking, controlling cholesterol or high blood pressure, managing diabetes and incorporating a healthy diet that includes regular exercise. Medication may help to prevent platelets from clotting the blood. A statin drug may also help prevent plaque progression.
In more severe cases, the Lam Vascular surgeons may recommend peripheral artery bypass surgery or one of these minimally-invasive vascular procedures: angioplasty and stenting; or laser atherectomy. Both prove to be successful options to help remove plaque from blood vessels and restore blood flow through the arteries. The stent is a small device that forces the plaque against the walls of the arteries to open a wider path for blood flow to the lower half of your body. An angioplasty may also be necessary, in which an inflatable balloon device is inserted through a catheter to further help open up the arteries.
At Lam Vascular & Associates, our goal with every patient is to alleviate pain. Furthermore, we aim to make you comfortable again in your walk of life. If you have any concerns, schedule an initial consultation with Lam Vascular & Associates, conveniently located in Dallas and Rockwall, Texas.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.