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Vascular Surgery: Patient Journey and Resources

When you come to the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center for vascular surgery, you can count on receiving excellent care. You’ll work with doctors, nurses and other providers who are passionate about resolving your issue with the best outcome we can deliver. 

At the Heart & Vascular Center, our team treats thousands of patients every year. Whenever possible, we use noninvasive or minimally invasive options. We tailor your care to your goals, wishes and desires, now and into the future. 

What to Expect at the Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center

Your vascular surgeon offers the entire spectrum of treatment options. Your care may include conservative management or minimally invasive interventions. In some cases, open surgery, such as arterial or venous reconstruction, offers the best likelihood of success. 

Through our partnership with the Washington University School of Medicine, you have access to doctors and surgeons with specialized expertise. These skilled vascular surgeons work together to provide you with the most appropriate treatment or combination of treatments for your needs. 

Vascular disease diagnosis

Whether you are coming to us for a first-time concern or ongoing treatment, a second opinion or a repeat problem, we do a physical exam. We listen to your concerns and review your medical records and testing. We may also recommend other tests to gain a clear picture of your needs.

Your vascular testing may include: 

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI): This quick, noninvasive test measures circulation and blood flow. It can assess peripheral artery disease. You lie on your back, and we take your blood pressure in both arms and both legs. The test uses a blood pressure cuff and a small ultrasound wand. 
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA): This imaging test creates pictures of your arteries and veins. CTA uses CT scans, a type of X-ray that combines multiple pictures to provide 3D images. You will have an IV to deliver contrast, a dye that makes blood vessels more visible on the CTA scan.
  • Duplex ultrasound: This painless, noninvasive test uses two types of ultrasonography (sound waves) to evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins. We move a wand over your skin to send out the sound waves. Regular ultrasound creates pictures of your blood vessels. Doppler ultrasound measures sound waves bouncing off your blood as it flows. A computer changes the sound waves into pictures.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA): This MRI test uses powerful magnets to deliver a detailed 3D image of arteries and veins. It is noninvasive and painless. Some MRA tests involve injected contrast dye to provide a clearer picture. The MRI machine can be noisy, but you can wear earplugs or headphones.
  • Renography: This test follows a tracer to look at blood flow in and around your kidneys. You have an injection of a tiny amount of radioactive material (about the same amount as from an X-ray). A few minutes later, we take pictures with a gamma camera, which captures images of radiation. The test takes about an hour. The tracer leaves your system completely within 24 hours.
  • Ultrasound angiography (intravascular ultrasound): This minimally invasive test helps us detect blockages in blood vessels. In our catheterization lab, we numb a spot (most often in the groin) and insert a thin tube called a catheter through a small puncture. The tip of the catheter has a tiny ultrasound wand to show your artery walls. After the test, you need to lie flat on your back for a few hours. 

Your vascular procedure

We perform many vascular surgeries on an outpatient basis. Some techniques, such as varicose vein treatments, are done in your surgeon’s office. But some procedures require a hospital stay of one day or up to several days so we can monitor your well-being. Read more about your vascular surgery options

We offer vascular surgery procedures at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. Our surgeons also perform outpatient procedures at the Center for Advanced Medicine – South County. See our locations.

After a vascular procedure

After your procedure, you’ll have ongoing follow-up care. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to care for any incisions and when and how much to be active. 

Every patient who is in the hospital for more than 24 hours for lower extremity (legs and feet) arterial disease has an evaluation with our physical therapy and occupational therapy teams. These therapists develop a personalized plan to help you regain your mobility and get back to your usual activities. 

Ongoing vascular disease care

Because we may follow your care for many years, we build lifelong relationships with many of our patients. With every care decision, we consider what you need now — and what you may need five, 10 or 15 years down the road. 

Before, during and after vascular treatment, we keep in mind your overall well-being. If you have concerns about symptoms or other vascular issues, please contact your doctor right away. Find out more about the vascular diseases we treat.

Vascular Research and Clinical Trials

For some, existing treatments aren’t the right fit. Thanks to our affiliation with Washington University School of Medicine, our vascular surgeons are also researchers. We offer several clinical trials and new therapies that may be appropriate for you. Learn more about our innovation.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University vascular specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 314-273-7373.