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Glossary

To help you understand the information about peripheral vascular disease we have provided the following glossary. It includes many of the medical terms that may be used when talking about peripheral vascular disease and its treatment.

A

Abdominal

Pertaining to the abdomen.

Acute Thromboembolism

A quick and severe blocking of a blood vessel by a blood clot dislodged from its site of origin.

Adventitia

The membranous outer covering of an organ or a blood vessel.

Aneurysm

A sac-like widening of a blood vessel.

Angioplasty

The surgical repair of a blood vessel, either by inserting a balloon-tipped catheter to unblock it, or by reconstructing or replacing part of the vessel.

Aorta

The main trunk of the systemic arteries, carrying blood from the left side of the heart to the arteries of all limbs and organs except the lungs.

Arteriogram

An x-ray of blood vessels, which becomes visible after an injection of contrast solution into the circulation that appears on the x-ray film.

Arteriosclerosis

A chronic disease in which thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of arterial walls result in impaired blood circulation.

Artery (pl. Arteries)

Any of the muscular elastic tubes that form a branching system and that carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the cells, tissues, and organs of the body.

Atherosclerotic

Having or relating to atherosclerosis.

B

Bruit

A sound heard with a stethoscope suggesting a narrowed vessel.

Bypass Graft

An alternative passage created surgically to divert the flow of blood.

C

Carotid Artery

Two major arteries of the neck and head that branches from the aorta.

Catheter

A hollow flexible tube for insertion into a body cavity, duct, or vessel to allow the passage of fluids or distend a passageway.

Central venous catheters

A catheter (tube) that is passed through a vein to allow concentrated solutions to be infused with less risk of complications.

Cerebrovascular

Relating to the brain and the blood vessels that supply it.

Circulatory System

The bodily system consisting of the heart, blood vessels, and blood that circulates blood throughout the body, delivers nutrients and other essential materials to cells, and removes waste products. Also called cardiovascular system.

Clot

A lump of material formed from changing a liquid (i.e. blood) to a thickened or solid state.

D

Dialate

To make wider or larger; cause to expand.
 

Dialysis

The separation of smaller molecules from larger molecules in a solution by selective diffusion through a semipermeable membrane. Part of the hemodialysis process.

Dialyzer

A machine equipped with a semipermeable membrane that allows passage of certain, especially small, molecules but acting as a barrier to others and used for performing dialysis.

Distal

Farthest from the center of attachment, center of the body, point of attachment; the opposite of proximal.

E

Electrodesiccation

Use of an electric current to seal off veins. 
 

Embolectomy

Surgical removal of a mass, such as an air bubble, a detached blood clot, or a foreign body, that travels through the bloodstream and lodges so as to obstruct or occlude a blood vessel.

Embolism

Occlusion of a blood vessel by a loose clot, air bubble or other particle.

Endarterectomy

Surgical excision of the inner lining of an artery that is clogged.

Endoluminal

Within the inner space of an artery or vein.

Endovascular

A form of minimally invasive surgery that was designed to access many regions of the body via major blood vessels.

F

Femoral Vein

An upward continuation of the popliteal vein that carries blood from the leg back to the heart.

H

Hemodialysis

A procedure for removing metabolic waste products or toxic substances from the bloodstream by washing the blood over a membrane with a special fluid.
 

Hypertension

Abnormally elevated blood pressure.
 

I

Iliac Vein

One of three veins draining the pelvic area.

Infrarenal

Located below the renal arteries.
 

Intermittent Claudication

An aching, crampy, tired, and sometimes burning pain in the legs that comes and goes due to poor circulation of blood in the arteries of the legs. Typically occurs with walking and goes away with rest.

Internal fistula

A passageway in the body, a bridge or connection between an artery and a vein, either abnormal or created surgically.

Intima

The innermost membrane of an organ or part, especially the inner lining of a lymphatic vessel, an artery, or a vein.
 

Intravenous

Administering fluids and/or surgical instruments into a vein.

Ischemia

A decrease in the blood supply to a bodily organ, tissue, or part caused by constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels.

L

Lipoprotein

A conjugated protein having a lipid component; the principal means for transporting lipids in the blood.

M

Media

The middle, often muscular layer of the wall of a blood vessel.

O

Occlusion

An obstruction or a closure of a passageway or vessel.

P

Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA)

The use of a balloon-tipped catheter to enlarge a narrowed artery.

Phlebitis

Inflammation of a vein.

Plaque

A deposit of fatty material on the inner lining of an arterial wall.

Popliteal Vein

A vein arising in the knee and ascending to become the femoral vein.

Prosthetic

Serving as or relating to an artificial device used to replace a missing body part.

Proximal

Nearest the center of attachment, center of the body, point of attachment, or point of reference; the opposite of distal.

R

Radiologist

A medical specialist who uses radioactive substances and X-rays in the treatment of disease.

Red Blood Cell

A cell in the blood that transports oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the tissues.

S

Saphenous Vein

There are two, the great and the small saphenous veins – they serve as the principal veins running near the surface up the leg. The great saphenous vein (also called the large saphenous vein) goes from the foot all the way up to the thigh. The small saphenous vein runs behind the outside of the ankle joint, comes up the back of the leg and joins the popliteal vein in the space behind the knee.

Sclerotherapy

Procedure where a fine needle injects a solution directly into the vein. This solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell and the blood to clot. The vein turns into scar tissue that fades from view.

Shunt

A passage between two natural body channels, such as blood vessels, especially one created surgically to divert or permit flow from one pathway or region to another; a bypass.

Stenosis

A constriction or narrowing of a duct or passage.

Stent

A slender thread, rod, or catheter inserted into a tubular structure, such as a blood vessel.

Stent Graft

A tube composed of fabric or other material supported by a metal mesh called a stent. It can be used for a variety of conditions involving the blood vessels, but most commonly is used to reinforce a weak spot in an artery called an aneurysm.

Stroke

A sudden loss of brain function caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel to the brain, characterized by loss of muscular control, diminution or loss of sensation or consciousness, dizziness, slurred speech, or other symptoms that vary with the extent and severity of the damage to the brain.

T

Thoracic

Pertaining to the chest.

Thrombolytic

A kind of drug that can break up clots blocking the flow of blood to the heart muscle.

Thrombus (pl. Thrombi)

A clot formed in a blood vessel or in a chamber of the heart.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A neurological event, often caused by the narrowing of the carotid arteries, with the signs and symptoms of a stroke, but which go away within a short period of time. Also called a mini-stroke, a TIA is due to a temporary lack of adequate blood and oxygen (ischemia) to the brain.

U

Ultrasound

The use of ultrasonic waves for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, specifically to image an internal body structure.

V

Varicose

Abnormally swollen or knotted.

Vascular

Relating to the blood vessels (arteries, veins and capillaries) of the body. The blood vessels of the body, as a group, are referred to as the vascular system. 
 

Vascular Surgeon

One whose profession or occupation is to cure vascular diseases or injuries of the body by manual operation.

Veins

Any of the membranous tubes that form a branching system and carry oxygen-depleted blood to the heart.

Ventricle

Either of the two lower chambers of the heart that, when filled with blood, contract to propel it forward.

W

White Blood Cell

Blood cells that engulf and digest bacteria and fungi; an important part of the body's defense system.