Vascular Surgery

Your blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients throughout your body to manage every aspect of your body’s functioning. Blood vessel problems — from varicose veins to arterial blockages — disrupt this process.

When vascular disease becomes troublesome or debilitating, MUSC Health’s vascular surgeons use specialized tools and techniques to offer the most advanced solutions available. We diagnose and treat vascular problems to clear blockages and use stents or grafts (replacement blood vessels) to help your blood flow as it should.

Why Choose MUSC Health for Vascular Surgery?

MUSC Health offers South Carolina’s most advanced vascular surgery care. We deliver:

  • Collaborative team: You’ll receive coordinated care from the region’s leading team of experts in vascular conditions. Your care team will include vascular doctors and surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and other care professionals, along with experts from different specialties as needed. Meet our team.
  • Surgical and endovascular options: Our surgeons offer all current endovascular (minimally invasive) and surgical techniques to treat vascular disease. We recently added the CorPath® GRX endovascular tool to provide robot-assisted precision in minimally invasive procedures. Learn more about our vascular services.
  • Limb Salvage Clinic: Critical limb ischemia, a severe form of vascular disease, puts people at risk of amputation (removal of a limb, foot or toe). Our limb ischemia specialists use advanced vascular surgery to avoid amputation. Read about PAD treatment.
  • Telehealth Center of Excellence: Before or after surgery, our team can consult with you anywhere in South Carolina. The MUSC Health Center for Telehealth is one of only two National Telehealth Centers of Excellence in the U.S.
  • Vein Clinic: In our Vein Clinic, vascular doctors treat for varicose veins and venous reflux (backward blood flow in the leg veins). We provide medical as well as surgical treatments, including percutaneous vein ablation and phlebectomy. Read more about our vein clinic.
  • Research options: Because of our standing as the state’s only medical research institution, our team can offer you the most promising treatments for vascular disease, including new grafts and stents. Get more information about research and clinical trials.

Vascular Surgery at MUSC Health

When blood isn’t flowing as it should, surgery can provide revascularization to keep your cells healthier. MUSC Health offers endovascular and vascular surgery, including:

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Whenever possible, our surgeons opt for minimally invasive methods to clear blockages from your arteries and restore your blood flow. Minimally invasive procedures generally have less pain and bleeding, plus a faster recovery. Our team may use the CorPath® GRX robot to provide advanced precision for procedures in tiny blood vessels.

Doctors perform minimally invasive, percutaneous procedures in our cardiac catheterization lab. Percutaneous interventions involve a thin tube (catheter) that your doctor threads through your arteries to reach a blockage. You’ll have a tiny incision in your groin, foot or ankle for:

  • Balloon angioplasty: Your doctor inflates a tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter inside your artery. The balloon squeezes plaque (buildup in the artery) against the walls of the blood vessel to widen the path for blood to flow more freely.
  • Drug-coated balloon angioplasty: Doctors perform angioplasty using a balloon coated with medicine that prevents clots from forming.
  • Stenting: Vascular doctors can place a tiny mesh tube called a stent to hold your artery open after angioplasty. The stent remains in your artery after the doctor removes the catheter. If clotting is a concern, your doctor might use drug-coated stents that gradually release medicine to prevent clots.
  • Peripheral atherectomy: Your doctor uses a catheter to destroy plaque buildup and reopen a blood vessel.

Revascularization and Bypass Graft Surgery

Revascularization surgery repairs or replaces blood vessels to restore blood flow to the brain or limb.

In some cases, plaque buildup and blood vessel damage make it impossible to repair a long stretch of an artery. Your doctor can restore blood flow by creating a graft. The surgeon creates a graft by removing a less-critical section of a blood vessel from somewhere else in your body (usually a vein). Then he or she attaches the new blood vessel to reroute blood around the blocked part.

Carotid Endarterectomy

The carotid arteries are large blood vessels in your neck that carry blood to your brain. Blockages in these vessels are called carotid stenosis. Carotid endarterectomy cleans plaque buildup out of your carotid artery to reduce your risk of stroke.

Our vascular surgeons and neuroendovascular surgeons (specialists in the vessels of the brain) treat carotid stenosis. Treatment involves opening the artery to prevent stroke. We provide carotid artery revascularization through three procedures:

  • Open carotid endarterectomy: The surgeon makes an incision in your neck and removes plaque buildup in the carotid artery. Afterward, the surgeon closes the artery again.
  • Transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR): Instead of an open procedure, your surgeon creates a tiny incision in the carotid artery in the neck to insert a stent via a catheter. While placing the stent, the surgical team reverses the blood flow to your carotid artery to minimize the risk of stroke during the procedure.
  • Transfemoral carotid stent: Depending on your blood vessels, your doctor might make a small incision in the groin to get into the femoral artery and place a stent in the carotid artery.

PAD Treatment

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) interrupts blood flow to your limbs, especially your feet and legs. Our doctors offer many endovascular techniques for PAD treatment, including:

  • Angioplasty
  • Stenting
  • Drug-coated balloon angioplasty
  • Multiple types of atherectomy
  • Pedal access (endovascular approach through the foot)

Additional Treatments for Vascular Disease

Vascular specialists treat veins and arteries in every part of your body except the heart and brain. Our vascular team offers specialized care for conditions that affect the aorta, the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the abdomen. In our Aortic Center, we treat aneurysms (tears in the aorta) and aortic valve problems.