Glossary of Terms
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) A dilatation of the main artery within the abdomen (aorta) such that it is >50% larger than its normal diameter. Learn more.. Angiogram A diagnostic test in which a radio-opaque dye is injected into the blood system and X-rays are taken to view the adequacy of the circulation of the vessels e.g. arteries and veins. Learn more.. Anticoagulation Any substance that prevents or slows the clotting of blood e.g. warfarin & heparin Amputation A surgical procedure to remove part of or all of a limb e.g. toe amputation or below knee amputation Anaesthetic A medication that is used to numb a specific body area (local or regional anaesthetic) or induce sleep (general anaesthetic) so that an operation can be performed. Aneurysm An abnormal dilatation of a vessel such that it is >50% larger than its normal diameter. Aorta The largest artery in the bdoy arising from the heart and travelling to through the chest and abdomen to branch into the right and left iliac arteries at the level of the umbilicus. Artery A blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the tissues/organs of the body e.g. aorta. Arteritis An artery that has become inflamed and in turn damaged. May occur as a result of infection or an autoimmune disease e.g. rheumatoid arthritis or Takayasu arteritis. The damaged artery may narrow limiting blood flow to tissues, or dilate and become aneurysmal. Atherosclerosis The build-up of fatty deposits in the arterial wall which over time causes ‘hardening of the arteries’ and blood vessel narrowing. Atherectomy A technique - often minimally invasive in nature - used to remove atherosclerosis from an artery. Auto-amputation The spontaneous amputation of part of or all of a limb.
Balloon Angioplasty The process of widening a narrowed blood vessel by inflating a balloon within the vessel. Learn more.. Bypass A surgical procedure in which a blockage of an artery is treated by attaching a pipe (graft) above and below the blockage to restore blood flow beyond it. Learn more..
Capillary The smallest vessel in the body that connect the end of the smallest artery (arteriole) to the beginning of the smallest vein (venule). Carotid Artery A paired artery - one on each side of the neck - that supplies blood to the brain. Catheter A thin hollow tube that can be inserted into the body to treat diseases or monitor the body’s systems. A ‘vascular’ catheter refers to a thin tube through which balloons, stents or other items can be introduced into a blood vessel. Cholesterol A fatty substance found in the blood. Circulation The movement of blood through the body’s vascular system. Collateral An alternative route around a major artery that enlarges when the major artery is blocked. Similar in concept to a car driver opting to take an A- or B-road rather than the motorway when the latter is congested. Claudication Muscle cramping that occurs when exercising a muscle group - typically calf or thigh muscles - which reliably stops with rest. Caused by inadequate blood supply to that muscle group. Learn more.. Compression Stockings Tight socks or hosiery deigned to compress the legs and facilitate blood return through the venous system thereby relieving sypmtoms of venous hypertension. May also be used to support oedematous legs caused by lymphoedema. Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan A specialist X-ray based test that acquire sliced images of the body. Learn more.. Critical Limb Ischaemia (CLI) Inadequate arterial blood supply to the leg or arm such that if left untreated the limb is likely to perish or require amputation. Learn more.. CVA Cerebral Vascular Accident. This is also known as a stroke.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) A blood clot within a major (deep) vein in the arm or leg causing heaviness, swelling and pain. Diabetes Mellitus (DM) A condition causing an individual’s blood sugar to be abnormally elevated. Doppler A painless, non-invasive diagnostic tool used to detect the flow of blood within an artery or vein.
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Embolectomy The removal of a blood clot (embolus) from a blood vessel. Embolus A piece of a blood clot or plaque that breaks off and travels in the blood stream to a smaller vessel where it causes an occlusion. Endarterectomy The surgical removal of the diseased inner layer of an artery that has caused a narrowing or blockage of the artery e.g. carotid endarterectomy. Learn more.. Endoleak Persistent blood flow into an aneurysm - typically an aortic aneurysm - that has previously been treated with a stent-graft (EVAR). Endovascular Surgery Minimally invasive surgery performed on a blood vessel through catheters. Endovenous Ablation Minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins using heat e.g. Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT).
Femoral Artery The main artery in the groin that supplies blood to the leg.
Gangrene Tissue death caused by inadequate blood flow. Graft An artificial tube or length of vein used to construct a bypass around a blocked artery.
Hypercholesterolaemia Abnormally raised blood cholesterol level. Hypertension High blood pressure.
Iliac Artery The aorta splits into the right and left iliac arteries at the level of the umbilicus. The iliac arteries supply the legs, becoming the femoral arteries in the groin. Infrarenal Below the level of the kidney (renal) arteries.
Laser Therapy Use of an intense beam of light to close (or open) a blood vessel e.g Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT). Lumen The channel inside a blood vessel.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) A diagnostic test that uses radio waves and magnetic fields to image body tissues. MRA images the arteries, MRV images the veins.
Non-Invasive A term used to describe a diagnostic test or treatment that does not require the introduction of instruments into the body.
Occlusion A complete blockage of a vessel (see stenosis). Oedema Abnormal accumulation of water within a body tissue; typically seen in the ankles or calves.
Paralysis The loss of the ability to move a part or parts of the body. Percutaneous Typically refers to a minimally invasive procedure performed through the skin e.g. percutaneous balloon angioplasty. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Abnormal structure and function of the arteries outside of the heart or brain. Often caused by atherosclerosis and referred to as ‘furring of’ or ‘hardening of’ the arteries. Learn more.. Phlebectomy or stab avulsion Physical removal of a superficial vein (varicose vein) through a small incision. Plaque A ‘shelf’ on the inside of an artery due to the build-up of cholesterol or other materials. Platelets Specialised blood cells that play an important role in the ability of the blood to clot especially at the site of a treatment injury e.g. angioplasty. Anti-platelets are an important treatment adjunct in vascular surgery. Popliteal Artery The artery located behind the knee. Popliteal fossa The concave area located behind the knee joint.
Radiopaque Blocks the transmission of X-rays. Renal Artery A blood vessel that supplies oxygenated blood to a kidney. Each kidney typically has one renal artery, but occasionally there may be an accessory (minor) renal artery also. Rest Pain Pain that occurs in a muscle group or other tissue as a result of inadequate blood supply even when the tissue is not being stressed e.g. pain in the foot or calf even when sitting down. Rest pain is a sign of critical limb ischaemia and is often a precursor of gangrene.
Sclerotherapy Sclerotherapy is an effective treatment for varicose veins in which a chemical (sclerosant) is injected into the vein to promote irritation and thereafter obliteration of the vein. Sepsis A potentially lethal condition in which the body’s response to infection causes injury to vital organs and eventually death if left untreated. Sepsis is a medical emergency and requires emergency treatment. Sign The physical evidence of a disease e.g. the finding of a pulsatile mass in the abdomen of a patient with an aortic aneurysm. Skin staple A metal clip used to close a surgical incision. Stenosis A narrowing of a blood vessel. Stent A metallic tube placed in the lumen of an artery or vein to maintain vessel patency. Typically used in conjunction with balloon angioplasty. Stent-graft A stent that is covered or lined with a non-porous material e.g. GoreTex. Stroke A condition caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain leading to cell death. Symptoms may include: paralysis of the arm, leg or one side of the body; slurred speech; facial drooping; loss of vison in one eye. Suture Material used to approximate a wound or surgical incision. Commonly referred to as stitches. Symptom An abnormal feeling or function reported by the patient that may indicate a disease process e.g. claudication.
Thrombolytic Therapy A treatment that uses ‘clot busting’ medication to dissolve blood clots in the circulation. Thrombus A blood clot in a vein or artery that is located at the site where it first formed -compare to embolus. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Identical to a stroke but resolves within 24hours. If ignored or inadequately treated may be a precursor to a major stroke. Learn more..
Ulcer A sore or open wound on the skin surface that fails to heal within a normal timeframe. Ultrasound A painless, diagnostic test that uses sound waves to image the body.
Vascular Relating to blood vessels e.g. the body’s vascular system includes all of the veins and arteries. Vascular Surgeon An expert in the assessment and treatment of conditions affecting blood vessels including arteries, lymphatics and veins. Vein A vein is a blood vessel that carries blood back to the heart from a tissue/organ. They often exist side by side with an artery which takes blood from the heart to a tissue/organ. Ventilator A machine that is used to assist individuals who are unable to breath on their own.