Vein Clinic

What is the Role of a Vascular Surgeon?

Vascular surgeons specialize in the comprehensive treatment of arteries (responsible for transporting oxygen-rich blood from the heart) and veins (responsible for returning blood to the heart), excluding those within the brain and heart.

Their expertise covers a wide spectrum of conditions. For instance, vascular surgeons address issues like blocked carotid arteries situated in the neck. They also manage conditions affecting the aorta, the main artery extending from the heart into the abdomen. Additionally, they are skilled in handling peripheral vascular disease, a condition commonly affecting arteries in the legs and feet.

The role of a vascular surgeon encompasses more than just surgical interventions. They ensure that patients grappling with vascular health concerns are fully informed about and comprehend their treatment options. In essence, while vascular surgeons are capable of performing surgeries, a significant portion of their practice involves patients who may not need surgical procedures. Many vascular problems can be effectively managed through medications or lifestyle modifications like exercise.

Some providers specialize in one or two types of vascular procedures so their patients tend to get those treatments. Vascular surgeons, however, possess expertise across a broad spectrum of treatments, spanning from traditional open surgeries to minimally invasive endovascular procedures. Their approach remains impartial, prioritizing the most suitable treatment for each patient’s unique condition.

Vein Clinic

About our Vascular Surgeons

What is the Educational Training of Providers?

At Fox Valley Surgical Specialists, our team of vascular surgeons comprises individuals who have undergone specialized fellowship or specialty training. Fellowship training involves an additional 1-3 years of specialized training following the completion of medical school and residency. Specialty training encompasses an intensive focus on vascular surgery during the surgical residency, typically comprising three and a half years of a five-year program.

What Level of Experience Do Providers Possess?

As a specialized group of surgeons, the vast majority of our daily cases revolve around vascular issues. We provide care to thousands of patients annually, addressing concerns ranging from mild spider veins to critical aneurysms.

Conditions That We Treat

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) is a condition where the abdominal aorta enlarges abnormally due to weakened vessel walls. This can lead to life-threatening internal bleeding if it ruptures. Risk factors include age, smoking, high blood pressure, and family history. Symptoms are often silent until severe but can include abdominal or back pain and a pulsating sensation near the navel. Early detection through imaging is crucial, with treatment options ranging from monitoring to surgical repair. (Watch video on Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm with Dr. Alexander Tretinyak).

Aortic and Femoral Arterial Disease Management involves treating blockages or narrowing in the aorta and femoral arteries, which can lead to reduced blood flow and complications like claudication or critical limb ischemia. Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Management strategies include lifestyle changes, medications, and, in severe cases, surgical interventions such as angioplasty, stenting, or bypass surgery to restore proper blood flow and prevent further complications. Regular monitoring and early intervention are key to effective management and improved outcomes.
Aortic Dissection is a serious condition where the inner layer of the aorta tears, causing blood to flow between the layers of the aortic wall. This can lead to aortic rupture or decreased blood flow to organs. Risk factors include high blood pressure, connective tissue disorders, and trauma. Symptoms often include sudden, severe chest or back pain, shortness of breath, and fainting. Immediate medical attention is critical, with treatment options ranging from medication to emergency surgery to repair the aorta and prevent fatal complications.
Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease is a condition where the iliac arteries and the lower part of the aorta become narrowed or blocked, reducing blood flow to the legs. Common symptoms include pain in the hips, thighs, or calves when walking, known as claudication. Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Treatment involves lifestyle changes, medications, and in severe cases, surgical interventions such as angioplasty, stenting, or bypass surgery to restore blood flow and alleviate symptoms. Early diagnosis and management are essential for improving patient outcomes.
Arm Artery Disease occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the arms become narrowed or blocked, leading to reduced blood flow. Symptoms include pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms, especially during activity. Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Management involves lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgical procedures such as angioplasty or stenting to improve blood flow. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent complications and improve function and quality of life.
Atherosclerosis is a condition where arteries become narrowed and hardened due to a buildup of plaque, which consists of fat, cholesterol, and other substances. This can restrict blood flow and lead to serious health problems like heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. Symptoms depend on which arteries are affected but often include chest pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. Management includes lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgical procedures to remove or bypass blockages. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing complications.
Carotid Artery Disease occurs when the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain, become narrowed or blocked due to plaque buildup. This can lead to reduced blood flow and increase the risk of stroke. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. Symptoms may include sudden weakness, paralysis, confusion, trouble speaking, or severe headache. Management involves lifestyle changes, medications, and potentially surgical procedures like carotid endarterectomy or stenting to restore blood flow. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent stroke and improve outcomes.
Carotid Artery Stenosis is a condition where the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain, become narrowed due to plaque buildup. This narrowing can reduce blood flow and increase the risk of stroke. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. Symptoms may include sudden weakness, paralysis, difficulty speaking, or severe headache. Management involves lifestyle changes, medications, and surgical procedures such as carotid endarterectomy or stenting to restore blood flow. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent stroke and improve patient outcomes.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a condition where the veins in the legs cannot effectively return blood to the heart, leading to blood pooling in the legs. This can cause symptoms such as swelling, pain, varicose veins, and skin changes. Risk factors include age, prolonged standing or sitting, obesity, and a history of deep vein thrombosis. Management involves lifestyle changes like exercise and weight management, wearing compression stockings, and sometimes medical procedures such as vein ablation or sclerotherapy to improve blood flow. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent complications and improve quality of life.

Connective Tissue Disorder (CTD) encompasses a group of conditions that affect the tissues supporting the body’s organs and other structures. These disorders can impact the skin, joints, blood vessels, and internal organs, leading to symptoms such as joint pain, skin abnormalities, and organ dysfunction. Examples of CTDs include lupus, scleroderma, and Marfan syndrome. Risk factors vary but can include genetic predisposition and autoimmune reactions. Management typically involves medications to control symptoms and inflammation, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Early diagnosis and tailored treatment are essential to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs. This can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected leg. Risk factors include prolonged immobility, surgery, certain medications, and genetic predisposition. If left untreated, DVT can lead to serious complications such as a pulmonary embolism, where the clot travels to the lungs. Management involves medications to prevent clot growth and reduce the risk of further clots, as well as lifestyle changes to improve circulation. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to preventing complications and improving outcomes.
Endoleaks are complications that can occur after endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR), where blood leaks into the aneurysm sac despite the presence of a stent graft. There are five types of endoleaks. Type I involves leaks at the graft attachment sites, while Type II occurs when blood flows into the aneurysm sac from branch arteries. Type III is characterized by leaks through defects in the graft, and Type IV involves blood leakage through the graft fabric. Type V, also known as endotension, is when there is continued aneurysm growth without a detectable leak. These endoleaks can lead to aneurysm expansion and potential rupture. Management includes regular monitoring with imaging and, if necessary, additional procedures to seal the leaks and ensure the stability of the repair. Early detection and intervention are crucial to prevent severe complications.
Fibromuscular Disease (FMD) is a condition characterized by abnormal cell growth in the walls of medium-sized arteries, leading to narrowing, aneurysms, or dissections. It commonly affects the renal and carotid arteries. Symptoms may include high blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, or pulsatile tinnitus. The exact cause is unknown, but it may involve genetic and hormonal factors. Management includes medications to control symptoms, angioplasty to widen narrowed arteries, and regular monitoring. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent complications and maintain vascular health.
Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) is an inflammatory condition affecting the large and medium-sized arteries, especially the temporal arteries. It commonly occurs in adults over 50. Symptoms include severe headaches, scalp tenderness, jaw pain, and vision problems. If left untreated, GCA can lead to serious complications such as blindness or stroke. The exact cause is unknown, but it may involve immune system dysfunction. Treatment typically involves high-dose corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and prevent complications. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial to managing symptoms and preventing severe outcomes.
Hyperlipidemia is a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in the blood. This increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. Risk factors include poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, and genetic predisposition. Symptoms are often silent, making regular blood tests essential for detection. Management includes lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, and medications like statins to lower lipid levels. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to reduce the risk of complications and improve heart health.
Lymphedema is a condition characterized by swelling in the arms or legs due to a blockage in the lymphatic system, preventing lymph fluid from draining properly. This can result from surgery, radiation treatment, infection, or inherited conditions. Symptoms include swelling, heaviness, restricted range of motion, and recurrent infections. Management involves techniques such as manual lymph drainage, compression garments, exercise, and meticulous skin care to reduce swelling and prevent complications. Early diagnosis and consistent treatment are essential to manage symptoms and maintain quality of life.
Mesenteric Ischemia is a condition where blood flow to the intestines is reduced due to a blockage or narrowing in the mesenteric arteries. This can cause severe abdominal pain, especially after eating, and can lead to weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Risk factors include atherosclerosis, blood clots, and low blood pressure. Management involves medications to dissolve clots, improve blood flow, and sometimes surgical procedures to remove blockages or bypass narrowed arteries. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent complications such as intestinal damage or death.
A peripheral aneurysm is a condition where there is an abnormal bulging or dilation in the peripheral arteries, such as those in the legs, arms, or neck. This can lead to complications like blood clots, artery rupture, or reduced blood flow. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, or a pulsating lump in the affected area. Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, and atherosclerosis. Management typically involves monitoring, medications to prevent clotting, and surgical intervention to repair or remove the aneurysm. Early detection and treatment are essential to prevent severe complications and improve outcomes.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a condition where the arteries supplying blood to the limbs, typically the legs, become narrowed or blocked due to atherosclerosis. This can cause symptoms such as leg pain while walking (claudication), numbness, weakness, and slow-healing wounds. Risk factors include smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Management involves lifestyle changes, medications to improve blood flow and reduce risk factors, and, in severe cases, surgical procedures like angioplasty or bypass surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to improve symptoms and prevent complications such as limb amputation. (Watch video on Peripheral Arterial Disease with Dr. Alexander Tretinyak).

Portal Hypertension is a condition characterized by increased blood pressure in the portal vein, which carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver. This condition is often caused by liver cirrhosis, but can also result from blood clots or other liver diseases. Symptoms include abdominal swelling (ascites), enlarged spleen, and varices, which are swollen veins that can bleed. Management involves medications to lower blood pressure, procedures to reduce blood flow in varices, and lifestyle changes. In severe cases, liver transplantation may be necessary. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent serious complications such as bleeding and liver failure.
Pulmonary Embolism (PE) is a serious condition where a blood clot blocks one or more arteries in the lungs, typically originating from deep veins in the legs (deep vein thrombosis). Symptoms include sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing (sometimes with blood), and rapid heart rate. Risk factors include prolonged immobility, surgery, cancer, and genetic predisposition. Management involves anticoagulant medications to prevent further clots, thrombolytics to dissolve existing clots, and sometimes surgical interventions. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent severe complications and improve survival rates.
Renovascular conditions refer to disorders affecting the blood vessels of the kidneys, leading to reduced blood flow. Common conditions include renal artery stenosis, where the arteries narrow, and renal vein thrombosis, where blood clots form. Symptoms may include high blood pressure, reduced kidney function, and fluid retention. Risk factors include atherosclerosis, smoking, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Management involves medications to control blood pressure and prevent clotting, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, surgical procedures such as angioplasty or stenting. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent kidney damage and improve outcomes.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. This can result in brain cell death within minutes. Symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking, vision problems, dizziness, and severe headache. Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and heart disease. Management involves emergency medical treatment, medications to dissolve clots or reduce blood pressure, and rehabilitation therapies. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment are critical to minimizing brain damage and improving recovery outcomes.
A Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA) is a condition where a section of the aorta within the chest becomes abnormally enlarged due to weakened vessel walls. This can lead to serious complications such as aortic dissection or rupture. Symptoms may include chest or back pain, shortness of breath, cough, and hoarseness, but many TAAs are asymptomatic until they grow large or rupture. Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, genetic conditions, and atherosclerosis. Management involves regular monitoring, medications to control blood pressure, and surgical intervention if the aneurysm is large or growing rapidly. Early detection and treatment are essential to prevent life-threatening complications.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is a condition where the nerves or blood vessels between the collarbone and first rib are compressed. This can lead to pain in the shoulders and neck, numbness in the fingers, and weakened grip. Causes include anatomical defects, poor posture, trauma, or repetitive activities. There are three types: neurogenic, venous, and arterial, depending on which structures are compressed. Management involves physical therapy, pain relief measures, and sometimes surgery to relieve the pressure. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to alleviate symptoms and prevent further complications.
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that usually occur in the legs due to weakened valves and vein walls, leading to blood pooling. Symptoms include aching pain, swelling, heaviness, and visible blue or purple veins. Risk factors include age, pregnancy, prolonged standing, obesity, and family history. Management includes lifestyle changes, compression stockings, and minimally invasive procedures such as sclerotherapy, laser therapy, or varicose vein surgery to remove or close the affected veins. Early treatment can relieve symptoms, improve appearance, and prevent complications such as ulcers or blood clots.
Vascular infections are infections that affect the blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries. These infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and can lead to serious complications such as aneurysms, thrombosis, or sepsis. Symptoms may include fever, chills, redness, swelling, and pain in the affected area. Risk factors include weakened immune systems, prior vascular surgery, intravenous drug use, and chronic diseases. Management involves the use of antibiotics or antifungal medications, and in severe cases, surgical intervention to remove the infected tissue. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to prevent severe complications and ensure effective recovery.
Vascular trauma refers to injuries to blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries, caused by blunt or penetrating trauma. These injuries can lead to severe bleeding, reduced blood flow, and potential loss of limb function. Symptoms include significant bleeding, bruising, pain, and swelling at the injury site. Risk factors include high-impact accidents and falls. Management involves immediate medical intervention to control bleeding, repair the damaged vessels, and restore blood flow, often through surgical procedures. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential to prevent life-threatening complications and improve recovery outcomes.
Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels that can affect arteries, veins, and capillaries. This condition causes the vessel walls to thicken, narrowing the blood vessels and reducing blood flow to tissues and organs. Symptoms vary depending on the affected vessels but may include fever, fatigue, weight loss, muscle and joint pain, and organ dysfunction. Causes can be autoimmune disorders, infections, or reactions to medications. Management involves medications to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent serious complications and maintain organ function.
A visceral artery aneurysm is an abnormal bulging or dilation in the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, such as the liver, spleen, or intestines. This condition can lead to serious complications if the aneurysm ruptures, causing internal bleeding. Symptoms are often absent until rupture but can include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Risk factors include atherosclerosis, hypertension, trauma, and certain connective tissue disorders. Management typically involves regular monitoring, controlling blood pressure, and surgical intervention to repair or remove the aneurysm if it poses a high risk of rupture. Early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent life-threatening complications.

Treatments & Procedures

Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat vein conditions by inserting a balloon-tipped catheter into the narrowed vein. The balloon is inflated to widen the vein, improving blood flow. A stent may be placed to keep the vein open.
Arterial bypass surgery involves creating a detour around a blocked artery using a graft from another blood vessel. This restores normal blood flow to tissues and organs, improving symptoms and preventing complications.

Arterial imaging involves using techniques such as ultrasound, CT angiography, or MRI to visualize arteries, detect blockages or abnormalities, and guide treatment plans. It helps diagnose conditions like atherosclerosis and aneurysms. (Watch FVSS video with Dr. Le).

Arterial stenting procedures involve placing a small mesh tube (stent) into a narrowed or blocked artery. The stent helps keep the artery open, improving blood flow and preventing future blockages ( Watch FVSS video with Dr. Le).
Arteriograms, also known as angiograms, are imaging procedures where contrast dye is injected into arteries to make them visible on X-rays. This helps diagnose blockages, aneurysms, and other vascular conditions.
Bowel vessel bypass surgery involves creating a new pathway around blocked or narrowed blood vessels supplying the intestines. This restores proper blood flow, relieving symptoms and preventing complications like bowel ischemia.
Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove plaque buildup from the carotid arteries in the neck. This helps restore normal blood flow to the brain, reducing the risk of stroke.
A carotid stent procedure involves placing a small mesh tube (stent) into a narrowed carotid artery. The stent keeps the artery open, improving blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of stroke.
Endovascular AAA repair is a minimally invasive procedure to treat an abdominal aortic aneurysm. A stent graft is inserted through small incisions in the groin and guided to the aneurysm, reinforcing the weakened aorta and preventing rupture.
Endovascular surgery is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat vascular conditions. It involves inserting catheters and stents through small incisions to repair or reinforce blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of complications.
First rib resection is a surgical procedure for treating Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. It involves removing the first rib to relieve compression on nerves and blood vessels, alleviating symptoms like pain, numbness, and swelling in the arms and shoulders.
An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a small device implanted in the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart. It traps blood clots to prevent them from reaching the lungs, reducing the risk of pulmonary embolism.
Lower extremity bypass surgery involves creating a detour around a blocked artery in the leg using a graft from another blood vessel. This restores blood flow to the leg, alleviating pain and preventing complications like tissue damage.
Peritoneal dialysis catheters are tubes surgically placed in the abdomen to facilitate peritoneal dialysis. This process uses the lining of the abdomen to filter waste from the blood, providing an alternative to hemodialysis for patients with kidney failure.
Renal failure access involves creating arteriovenous (AV) fistulas or inserting catheters to facilitate hemodialysis for patients with kidney failure. AV fistulas connect an artery to a vein, while catheters are placed in large veins, allowing efficient blood flow for dialysis.
A temporal artery biopsy is a surgical procedure where a small section of the temporal artery is removed for examination. This helps diagnose conditions like giant cell arteritis, which causes inflammation of the arteries and can lead to headaches and vision problems.
Vein stripping is a surgical procedure to remove varicose veins. It involves making small incisions and using a special instrument to pull out the affected veins, improving blood flow and reducing symptoms like pain and swelling.
A venogram is an imaging test where contrast dye is injected into the veins to make them visible on X-rays. This helps diagnose vein conditions such as blockages, clots, or varicose veins.
Venous ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat varicose veins. It involves using heat (radiofrequency or laser) to close off the affected veins, redirecting blood flow to healthier veins and alleviating symptoms like pain and swelling.Watch FVSS video with Dr. Le
Venous stenting procedures involve placing a small mesh tube (stent) into a narrowed or blocked vein. The stent helps keep the vein open, improving blood flow and alleviating symptoms such as swelling and pain.
Vertebral artery bypass is a surgical procedure to create a new pathway around a blocked or narrowed vertebral artery. This restores proper blood flow to the brain, reducing the risk of stroke and alleviating symptoms like dizziness and balance problems.
A vertebral artery stent procedure involves placing a small mesh tube (stent) into a narrowed vertebral artery. The stent keeps the artery open, improving blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of stroke.

Your Experienced Vascular Team

Dr. Robert Ballard

Robert Ballard, MD

Dr. Alexander Tretinyak
Alexander Tretinyak, MD
Sarah Wilson, MD
Sarah Wilson, MD
Dr. Jason Le
Jason Le, MD
Ariel Stilp
Ariel Stilp, APNP