Your vascular system is made up of vessels that carry your blood throughout your body. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart. Veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to your heart. Your blood leaves the left side of the heart and is pumped out to the rest of your body.

The main artery from your heart is called the aorta. As your blood travels throughout your body, it enters smaller and smaller blood vessels, reaching every cell, dropping off nutrients and picking up waste products and carbon dioxide.

Your blood then starts the trip back in your veins, entering larger and larger ones as it goes, passing through your kidneys and liver on the way to drop off waste products. The blood eventually arrives back at the right side of your heart to start the trip all over again.

As we age, our arteries tend to thicken, get stiffer, and narrow. This is called arteriosclerosis. A form of arteriosclerosis is atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque and cholesterol in large and medium-sized arteries. A narrowing of the arteries from the build-up of plaque can lead to coronary heart disease, and can cause a heart attack when this occurs in the blood vessels leading to the heart.

The same situation in the arteries leading to the brain can cause strokes. Narrowing of the arteries in other places, such as your legs, can cause what is called Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD. PAD can lead to sores, pain with walking, or amputation. When the smaller arteries are affected it is called arteriolosclerosis.


The vascular system comprises of the blood vessels in a person’s body, such as the arteries, veins and capillaries. These vessels are responsible for carrying blood to and from the heart. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to all parts of the body, including the brain, limbs and vital organs. Veins carry blood back to the heart. Vascular disease are abnormal conditions of the blood vessels. Any problems affecting the vascular system can lead to severe medical consequences, including disability or death. It is important to diagnose and treat vascular conditions early.


  1. Asymptomatic aortic aneurysm or dissection of the chest, abdomen or pelvis
  2. Asymptomatic neck (carotid) artery narrowing
  3. Pain in calf or thigh when walking (claudication pain due to artery narrowing)
  4. Congenital vascular malformations of face, limbs and body
  5. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or kidney failure with evidence of kidney artery narrowing
  6. Ulcers or skin changes due to varicose veins
  7. Painful varicose veins
  8. Unexplained swelling of upper and lower limbs
  9. Renal dialysis access creation and maintenance


Vascular surgeons are specialists who are highly trained to treat diseases of the vascular system. Your blood vessels – arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood and veins carrying blood back to the heart – are the roadways of your circulatory system. Without smoothly flowing blood, your body cannot function. Conditions such as hardening of the arteries can create “traffic jams” in your circulatory system, obstructing the flow of blood to any part of the body.

A vascular surgeon does far more than surgery.

A vascular surgeon makes sure patients with vascular health issues know and understand all their options. In short, vascular surgeons can do surgery, but they see and treat many patients who don’t require surgery. Many vascular problems can be treated with medication or exercise. As one vascular surgeon explained – “I spend 80 percent of my time trying to talk my patients out of having surgery.”

A vascular surgeon is able to do every kind of procedure.

Some specialists specialize in one or two kinds of vascular interventions, so their patients tend to get those treatments. Vascular surgeons are trained in everything: open, complicated surgery and in minimally invasive, endovascular procedures. Some patients need one, some need the other, while many need no surgery at all. Vascular surgeons are “treatment agnostic,” that is, they don’t prefer any kind of treatment over another. Patients can be assured they will get the best treatment for their particular need.

A vascular surgeon builds relationships with patients.

Some types of surgeons come into your life to perform a procedure, make sure you heal and then leave; that’s their role. A vascular surgeon may be someone who treats you on an ongoing basis for decades. A vascular surgeon very often has long-term relationships with patients because vascular disease can be a long-term condition. If you have vascular disease, you can trust a vascular surgeon to care about your long term health and to consider all your options.

Vascular surgeons manage veins and arteries in every part of the body except the brain and the heart.

For example, vascular surgeons handle blocked carotid arteries in the neck. They treat the problems of the aorta (a large main artery) after it leaves the heart and enters the abdomen. Peripheral vascular disease, which often affects the arteries in the legs and feet, also is treated by a vascular surgeon.

How do I know I need to see a vascular surgeon?

Typically, patients are referred to a vascular surgeon by their primary care physician. Sometimes patients become acquainted with a vascular surgeon after an unexpected event lands them in the hospital. You might be referred to a vascular surgeon if you see your regular doctor for pain in your legs, and learn that you have peripheral arterial disease, for example. If you are in a high risk category: are a smoker, diabetic, and/or have high blood pressure, you may be a candidate for starting a relationship with a vascular surgeon.



Vascular Surgery is a super speciality of surgery which is dedicated to the diagnosis, management and treatment of conditions affecting blood vessels including the arteries, veins and the lymphatic system. Traditionally, much of vascular surgery was done through open surgical reconstruction and techniques. These techniques were sometimes associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Today however, technological advances in vascular diagnostics and therapy have led to an increasing number of vascular disorders being detected and treated earlier. More specifically, the field of endovascular surgery- in which wires, catheters and stents are inserted through small artery/vein punctures – has made interventions for vascular diseases safer and less traumatic for patients. Patients recover much faster and are able to return to their daily functions earlier. This has significantly changed the way vascular surgery is practised for many major vascular conditions.