A vascular surgeon is a type surgeon who specialises in the management, diagnosis, and treatment of various conditions within the veins and arteries. The type of care that these surgeons can provide varies substantially depending on the exact condition that’s being treated. If you are suffering from a condition that adversely affects your vascular system, this article endeavours to provide you with information about what a vascular surgeon is and the role that they can play in your treatment and recovery process.
What Is a Vascular Surgeon?
Vascular surgeons have received extensive training for the treatment and management of diseases and conditions that affect the vascular system, which is comprised of veins and arteries. If your blood isn’t flowing smoothly throughout your vascular system, your body won’t be able to function like it should. Because of the high amount of training that a vascular surgeon has received, they diagnose and treat conditions or disease that affects the vascular system.
Vascular surgeons are trained to perform surgery that can be used for a vascular system disease, which includes open surgeries and minimally-invasive surgeries.
Training Required for Vascular Surgeons
A vascular surgeon is required to obtain a medical degree, which will then need to be followed by the completion of core surgical training. This training typically lasts for a period of two years, during which the prospective surgeon will receive training within a hospital setting in a wide variety of surgical specialities. While the individual is undergoing training for a couple of years, they will need to take and pass an extensive examination that’s aimed at providing them with membership to the Royal College of Surgeons or an equivalent membership organisation.
Once the individual has progressed through the core surgical training and has passed the necessary examination, they will then need to enrol into an ST3 training program that focuses entirely on vascular surgery. This type of speciality training takes six years to complete. While training they will be able to perform all types of surgery for the treatment of vascular conditions, and will eventually develop a special interest in a smaller area of vascular disease, which could be anything from aortic aneurismal disease to superficial venous disease.
In most cases, prospective vascular surgeons who apply for a spot in an ST3 program will need to have at least two years of prior surgical experience. Six of these months will need to be focused on general surgery, while four months of critical care experience is necessary. An additional Intercollegiate Speciality Examination will need to be passed before the surgeon is able to transition into a full-time vascular surgeon.
Conditions Treated By Vascular Surgeons
Vascular surgeons have the capabilities to treat a wide array of vascular conditions and diseases. Among the more common conditions treated by a vascular surgeon are varicose veins and spider veins. More severe diseases such as deep vein thrombosis and aneurisms can be treated as well. Some of the additional diseases that are able to be treated by vascular surgeons include carotid artery disease, venous ulcers, certain compression disorders, and atherosclerosis. The treatment methods that can be recommended by a vascular surgeon extend all the way from lifestyle changes and medications to compression therapy and surgery, the latter of which is only used as a last resort when all other treatment methods have yet to provide relief.
Job Duties of a Vascular Surgeon
Before a vascular surgeon is able to recommend a treatment to a patient, they will first diagnose the vascular disease that the patient is suffering from. If you believe that you’re suffering from some type of vascular disease or condition, your surgeon will inquire about your medical history as well as any symptoms that you’ve experienced and your general lifestyle. They will also administer a physical exam at this time to check for any symptoms that you have yet to identify. While the examination could be enough to determine what kind of vascular condition you’re suffering from, it’s possible that extra tests will be ordered, which can include an ultrasound as well as an ankle brachial index.
An ankle brachial index can be used to assess the severity of peripheral artery disease. While undergoing this test, your blood pressure will be taken in both of the ankles and arms. The results from your arms will be compared with your ankles to come to a precise conclusion. An ultrasound, on the other hand, creates detailed images of your blood vessels with sound waves. These images can help with the diagnosis of a wide range of conditions and diseases like varicose veins, aneurisms, and carotid artery disease. Once your condition has been diagnosed, treatment can begin.
When a vascular surgeon has made a diagnosis, they will then create a comprehensive treatment plan that’s aimed at fitting around the patient’s exact needs. If your condition isn’t deemed to be severe, you’ll likely be told to make some lifestyle changes, which could include stopping smoking, eating healthier, or exercising more regularly. You might also be prescribed with medications that will lessen the possibility that you develop a blood clot.
Some of the catheter procedures that are administered by a vascular surgeon include ablation, stenting, and an angioplasty. An ablation procedure is one where the surgeon closes some blood vessels that have been damaged. Both stenting and angioplasty procedures help to open up blocked or constricted veins and arteries. If you suffer from varicose veins or spider veins, the main procedure that you’re likely to be provided with by a vascular surgeon is sclerotherapy, which is a type of injection that helps to close these veins. If you are currently affected by a blood clot in a bad location, thrombolysis can be used by a vascular surgeon to dissolve these blood clots with a catheter or injection.
The main surgical procedures provided for vascular diseases and conditions include open surgery and minimally-invasive treatment, the latter of which is commonly referred to as endovascular surgery. When a surgery is deemed to be minimally invasive, this usually means that only very small incisions are created, which helps to reduce recovery time and limit the possible risks that could occur with the surgery. No matter what type of vascular disease you might be suffering from, there are an array of treatment options available to you. These treatments can either help you manage the symptoms or remove them altogether.
Whether you undergo a surgical procedure or are merely told to make some lifestyle changes for your condition, a vascular surgeon will also talk to you about the importance of the right medications, diet, and exercise as you recover from this treatment. In most cases, you will be required to schedule follow-up appointments with the surgeon to ensure that your recovery is going according to plan. If a surgical procedure has been administered to you, make sure that you notify the surgeon about any complications like bleeding or prolonged swelling that occur after the procedure has taken place.
How to Prepare For a Vascular Surgeon Consultation
When you’ve scheduled a consultation with a vascular surgeon, there are several things that you should keep in mind about these consultations. For one, you’ll want to write down a comprehensive list of the symptoms that you’re experiencing as well as any medicines that you currently take. With this information in hand, a vascular surgeon will likely be able to make a quicker diagnosis. You should also consider writing down any questions that come to mind beforehand.
For instance, make sure that you inquire about your diagnosis and what the prognosis is. Ask the surgeon about your treatment options as well as the risks that come with these treatments. If you are going to be prescribed with a medication, ask the surgeon about the possible side effects that can take place throughout treatment. If the treatment is a surgical procedure, you’ll likely want to know how long the procedure is going to last. It’s highly recommended that you take a notepad with you to write down the most important pieces of information that you’re provided with, which you can then easily reference in the future.
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