Glossary

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) - Swelling and weakening of the aortic artery. The aorta is one of the main arteries in the body, and is located in the abdomen. If an aneurysm grows too big it may rupture, causing a medical emergency.

  • ABI -See Ankle brachial pressure index

  • ABPI - See Ankle Brachial pressure index

  • Ambulatory - People treated outwith the hospital setting

  • Amputation - The surgical removal of part, or all, of a limb

  • Anastomosis - An opening created by surgical, traumatic or pathological means between two normally separate spaces or organs

  • Aneurysm - An abnormal swelling of a blood vessel, usually an artery. This causes a weakness in the wall of the blood vessel. See also abdominal aortic aneurysm

  • Angina - Pain in the centre of the chest which occurs during exercise. It may also be felt in the neck and arms. It disappears within a minute or so of stopping exercise. Angina is due to narrowing of the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart muscle

  • Angiogenesis - Formation of new collateral vessels in tissue. Therapeutic angiogenesis refers to the formation of vessels in peripheral limb ischaemia

  • Angiology - The scientific study of the blood vessels of the body

  • Angiogram - A special X-ray of the blood vessels: dye is injected into an artery to enable it to be seen on X-ray. Thus any narrowing can be detected

  • Angioplasty - (Also called percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, PTA) Insertion of a balloon-like device into a blood vessel to flatten atheroma against the wall of the blood vessel, thus enabling blood to flow more freely.

  • Ankle brachial pressure index - (Also known as ankle brachial index, ABI, ABPI) The ratio of blood pressure at the ankle to blood pressure in the arm. This provides a measure of the severity of arterial disease in the legs.

  • Anticoagulants - Drugs e.g. heparin or warfarin that prevent blood from clotting.

  • Antifibrinolytic drugs - When a blood vessel bursts, blood clots to seal the leak. Natural mechanisms then dissolve the clot, and thus re-bleeding can occur. Antifibrinolytic drugs prevent the natual process of clot dissolution, and so aim to prevent re-bleeding.

  • Antiplatelet drugs - Platelets are present in enormous numbers in the blood and play an essential part in blood clotting. Antiplatelet drugs, for example aspirin, are used to reduce platelet stickiness and act on blood platelets to prevent or destroy their mode of action.

  • Artery - A blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.

  • Ateriography - Imaging technique used to visualise the structire of arteries by injecting an opaque dye into the vessel and taking an x-ray.

  • Arteriosclerosis - See Atheroma.

  • Arteriovenous fistula(e) - The surgical joining of an artery and a vein under the skin for the purpose of haemolysis.

  • Atheroma - Hard yellow fatty deposits that cause thickening in the walls of arteries. Atheroma narrows the vessels, thus reducing blood flow.

  • Atherosclerosis - See Atheroma.

  • Bypass surgery - An operation in which the blood supply is rerouted (bypassed) using a graft, to avoid an area of narrowing, e.g. aorto-iliac and femoro-popliteal bypasses.

  • Calcium blocker - A type of drug which is used to control high blood pressure.

  • Cardiovascular - Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

  • Carotid artery - The principal artery on both sides of the neck.

  • Cerebrovascular - Pertaining to the brain and blood vessels.

  • Cerebrovascular accident - A general term to describe problems such as stroke and cerebral haemorrhage.

  • Chilblains - Swelling and redness caused by tissue damage, resulting from prolonged exposure to cold.

  • Claudication - See Intermittent claudication.

  • Compression stockings - Special elasticated stockings. They are used to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

  • Critical limb ischaemia (CLI) - Occurs when the blood supply to a limb is so poor that the patient experiences rest pain, ulcers or gangrene. Any of these may require amputation.

  • Deep venous thrombosis (DVT/Economy class syndrome) - (Also known as deep vein thrombosis) A blood clot in the veins of the leg.

  • Distal - Remote from any point of reference. Opposite of proximal.

  • Doppler (ultrasound technique) - A machine (or technique) for measuring blood flow in blood vessels.

  • DVT - See Deep venous thrombosis.

  • Duplex (scanning) - Combining Doppler ultrasound with an image, thus allowing blood flow in the vessels to be both seen and measured.

  • Endoleak - A complication following endovascular aneurysm repair.

  • Endovascular repair - Intervention through the arteries using wires to carry grafts to the area of interest to be repaired.

  • Embolus - A piece of thrombos (blood clot) which breaks off and then, being swept along by the blood stream, obstructs the circulation. In the arterial circulation, further from the heart; in the venous circulation, towards the heart.

  • Femoro-popliteal - Referring to the femoral and popliteal arteries.

  • Gangrene - Death of part of the tissue of the body.

  • Graduated compression stockings - See Compression stockings.

  • Graft - A tube used in bypass surgery. This may be the patient's own vein or made of a synthetic material, e.g. Dacron, Goretex.

  • Haematoma - Bruise.

  • Haemodilution - Treatment to thin the blood.

  • Haemodynamics - The forces involved in circulating blood around the body.

  • Haemorrhage - The escape of blood from a ruptured blood vessel. Another term for bleeding.

  • Haemostasis - Process that causes bleeding to stop.

  • Inguinal - Relating to the groin.

  • Intermittent claudication (IC) - A pain or ache in the legs (usually the calves) brought on by walking or exercise, and relieved by rest.

  • Intravenous - The method of giving fluids, drugs and blood through a needle or catheter into a vein, usually on the hand or in the arm.

  • Ischaemia - Deficient blood supply to any part of the body.
  • Occlusion - Generally refers to a blockage of a blood vessel.
  • Oedema - Fluid retention in the body.
  • Patency (of a vessel) - The degree of openness of a vessel (artery or vein). A vessel with a high patency is only blocked minimally and blood flows freely through the vessel.
  • PE - See Pulmonary embolism
  • Percutaneous Transluminal Balloon Angioplasty (PTA) - See Angioplasty.
  • Peripheral arterial disease/peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD/PAOD) - Diseases of the blood vessels outside the heart. Usually refers to atherosclerosis.
  • Phleb - Pertaining to veins.
  • Post-thrombotic syndrome - A complication of DVT resulting from damage to the vein caused by the blood clot.
  • Prophylaxis - Treatment given or action taken to prevent disease.
  • Proximal - Nearest to, closer to any point of reference. Opposite of distal.
  • Pseudoaneurysm - Haematoma that occurs as a result of a leaking hole in an artery.
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE) - A blood clot which reaches the lungs and so block the circulation of blood causing serious difficulty breathing, and may result in death. These clots originate in the leg veins as deep vein thrombosis and migrate to the lungs.
  • Raynaud's disease/phenomenon - A condition caused by an abnormal reduction in flow of blood to the extremities (fingers and toes) in response to cold. This response is caused by vasospasm in Raynaud's disease, and by another underlying disease in Raynaud's phenomenon.
  • Recanalisation - Process of restoring flow of the blood vessels.
  • Reconstructive surgery - See Bypass graft.
  • Reocclusion - Recurrence of occlusion occurs after corrective measures for example, when an occluded blood vessel which has had the blockage removed, becomes blocked again.
  • Restenosis - Recurrence of stenosis after corrective surgery; narrowing of a structue e.g. blood vessel following the removal or reduction of a previous narrowing.
  • Revascularisation - A proces of restoring blood to a vessel or organ following a state of deprivation.
  • Rest pain - Persistent pain in a limb.
  • Sclerosing agent - An irritant substance injected into varicose veins to block them in order to relieve pressure and discomfort.
  • Sclerotherapy - Injection of a sclerosing agent for the treatment of varicose veins. If rubber pads are bandaged over the site after injection, the term 'compression sclerotherapy' is used.
  • Stenosis - Narrowing of a structure e.g. blood vessel.
  • Stroke - Occurs when the blood flow to the brain is obstructed resulting in death in brain cells in a localised area due to inadequate blood flow.
  • Subcutaneous - Literally 'under the skin'. In practice, it is the way some drugs and fluids are given through a needle inserted into the skin.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis - An inflammation of a vein due to blood clot which is located just below the skin surface.
  • TED stockings - (ThromboEmbolic Deterrent stockings) Compression stockings worn to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
  • Thrombosis - The formation of a blood clot within a vessel.
  • Thrombectomy - Surgical removal of a blood clot.
  • Thromboembolism - Formation of a clot in a blood vessel that breaks loose and is carried by the blood stream to plug another vessel in the lungs, brain, digestive tract kidneys or leg.
  • Thrombolysis - Drug treatment to dissolve a blood clot.
  • Thrombus - A blood clot within the vascular system of the body and obstructing blood flow.
  • Ulcer - A defined area of skin loss. May be caused by problems with either arteries or veins.

  • Ultrasound - A technique in which high frequency sound waves are bounced off internal organs and the echo pattern is converted into a two-dimensional picture of the structures.
  • Varices (plural of varix) - Permanent dilatation of veins due to local retardation of the venous circulation. They are common in superficial veins of the lower limb.
  • Varicose veins - An abnormal swelling, particularly of the superfical veins of the leg.
  • Vascular - Related to the arteries and veins.
  • Vasoactive - Affecting the diameter of blood vessels.
  • Vasodilator - A drug which dilates (opens up) blood vessels to improve blood flow.
  • Vasospasm - The muscular constriction/narrowing of an artery.
  • Vein - A blood vessel carrying blood towards the heart.
  • Venography - Imaging technique used to visualise the structre of veins by injecting an opaque dye into the vessel and taking an x-ray.
  • Venous thromboembolism - The occurrence of DVT or PE, or both.