Peripheral Artery Disease Care

When you experience peripheral artery disease (PAD)—pain or cramping caused by plaque buildup in your legs’ arteries—turn to a UNC REX Healthcare vascular surgeon to help restore blood flow, relieve your discomfort and protect your health.

Minimally Invasive Treatments for PAD

Wherever possible, UNC REX Healthcare vascular surgeons use minimally invasive procedures to treat peripheral artery disease. That means you benefit from less pain and scarring, a reduced risk of infection and a quicker recovery.

Angioplasty & Stenting

During an angioplasty, your doctor guides a thin tube called a catheter through your arteries to the site of the plaque buildup. The catheter has a tiny balloon on the end. Your doctor inflates the balloon to press the plaque against the wall of the artery and restore blood flow. To keep your arteries open, your doctor may also use the catheter to place a small mesh tube called a stent.


During an atherectomy, your doctor uses a catheter and tiny tools to safely and precisely remove plaque from the walls of your arteries. With this treatment, you gain better blood flow without the use of a stent.

What to Expect

Your minimally invasive procedure may take 30 minutes to several hours. Depending on your condition, you may return home the same day as your procedure, or you may recover in the hospital for one to two days.

Peripheral Artery Bypass Surgery

If the plaque buildup in your artery is severe, your doctor may recommend bypass surgery. During this procedure, your doctor uses a vein from another part of your body or a synthetic tube to create a new pathway. This pathway re-reroutes your blood so it bypasses—or goes around—the blocked artery.

What to Expect

After bypass surgery, you’ll recover in the hospital for three to eight days. With the help of UNC REX Healthcare nurses and physical therapists, you’ll start taking short, gentle walks soon after surgery. This helps reduce swelling and other complications and speeds healing so you can return home sooner.

Preparing for Your PAD Procedure

To help your procedure go as smoothly as possible, follow your doctor’s instructions on how to prepare. Be sure to:

  • Talk to your doctor about what medicines, supplements or vitamins you should take or avoid before your procedure. 
  • Stop eating and drinking at midnight on the night before your procedure. You may use a small sip of water to take any necessary medications.


Follow your doctor’s instructions on medications, dietary restrictions, physical activity limitations and follow-up care after your procedure.

Learn Your Risk

Take an online Heart Aware or Vascular Aware assessment to discover your odds of developing a cardiovascular disease. You’ll find out if you qualify for further screenings or consultations.

North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital

Dr Usher - NC Heart HospitalWe built the North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital for many reasons. To bring the most advanced technology to our community. To gather top specialists in one location. To teach others how to lead heart healthy lives. But the best reasons are our patients.

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