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Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease

A type of peripheral artery disease (PAD), aortoiliac occlusive disease occurs when the iliac artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the legs becomes narrowed or blocked by cholesterol plaque. As plaque builds up, it can slow or completely stop the flow of blood. 

What Causes Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease? 

The leading cause of aortoiliac occlusive disease is hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Other risk factors include: 

  • High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) 
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) 
  • Smoking 
  • Diabetes 
  • Obesity 
  • A sedentary lifestyle 
  • An unhealthy diet 
  • A family history of heart and vascular disease 

Additionally, radiation treatment delivered to the pelvic region may cause inflammation in the arteries and hasten the progression of PAD. 

What Are the Symptoms of Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease? 

Aortoiliac occlusive disease is a progressive condition that typically worsens with time. Early symptoms can include: 

  • Pain or cramping in the buttocks, thighs or calves while walking 
  • Erectile dysfunction in men 

Symptoms of advanced aortoiliac occlusive disease can include: 

  • Pain in the feet or toes while at rest 
  • Numbness or cold sensations in the legs 
  • Leg or foot ulcers  
  • Tissue loss (gangrene) in the feet 

How Is Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease Diagnosed? 

To diagnose aortoiliac occlusive disease, a physician will typically begin with a review of the patient’s health history and symptoms and perform a physical examination. Next, the physician may order one or more of the following tests: 

  • Ankle-brachial index – Measures blood pressure at the ankles and arms 
  • Duplex ultrasound – Uses sound waves to create moving images of blood vessels 
  • Computerized tomographic (CT) scan – Uses cross-sectional X-rays and a computer to create highly detailed 3D images 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Uses a large magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed pictures of the arteries 

How Is Aortoiliac Occlusive Disease Treated? 

The optimal treatment approach can vary depending on the severity of the condition and other factors. Treatment options for mild aortoiliac occlusive disease can include: 

  • Managing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes 
  • Medication to help prevent blood clots 
  • Regular physical activity, such as walking 
  • Quitting smoking 

Treatment options for moderate to severe aortoiliac occlusive disease can include: 

  • Angioplasty and stenting, which involves the use of a balloon-like medical device to open the blocked artery and a metal mesh tube to keep it open 
  • Surgery to bypass the blocked artery 

Tampa General Hospital offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic and treatment options for all forms of PAD, including aortoiliac occlusive disease.