Vascular surgeons are physicians who diagnose and treat conditions of the vascular system, which includes arteries and veins. After medical school, physicians wanting to become vascular surgeons complete an additional five years of hospital clinical training in a general surgery residency, plus more years of hospital clinical training in a vascular surgery fellowship.
Physicians practicing in the field of vascular surgery have a primary role and other, secondary roles.
The primary role of vascular surgeons includes the direct diagnosis, treatment, and management of vascular conditions in any blood vessel in the body other than the heart and brain. Some of the common types of primary vascular surgical issues include:
• Surgical treatment of aneurysms. Aneurysms are areas of weakness that cause bulging in the wall of an artery. If an aneurysm bursts, it can be a life-threatening situation.
• Surgical treatment of plaque that builds up on arterial walls. This medical condition is called atherosclerosis, which some people refer to as hardening of the arteries. Plaque formation prevents proper blood flow and has numerous adverse health effects.
• Treatment of unsightly spider veins.
• Surgical treatment of varicose veins. Varicose veins develop when valves within veins stop working properly, allowing blood to flow in the wrong direction. This can cause bulging veins or swelling.
• Involvement in dialysis care by creating a graft or fistula for easy dialysis access.
• Addressing surgically serious arterial diseases including carotid artery disease and peripheral artery disease. In these conditions, the arteries become narrowed or blocked.
• Treatment of diabetic-related conditions, including chronic wounds that won’t heal because of poor blood flow. Many diabetic people have these problems, particularly in the lower extremities.
Vascular surgeons also have a secondary role, which comes up when they are consulted for emergencies that occur during surgery. For example, we recently worked on a case where a colon-rectal surgeon in Houston accidentally cut a vein in the patient’s abdomen while trying to remove a tumor from the colon. Once the surgeon recognized the bleeding, he paused the surgery and called for a vascular surgeon to come to the operating room to attempt to repair the lacerated vein.
Vascular surgery medical malpractice
A recent study of vascular surgery claims revealed that the most common procedures leading to a medical malpractice lawsuit involved:
• Open or endovascular peripheral revascularization. An open surgery is one done with the traditional incision. An endovascular surgery is less invasive, typically involving making a small incision near the hip to allow access to blood vessels through small surgical equipment inserted through a specialized tube. Revascularization is a surgery to restore blood flow through a blood vessel
• Carotid interventions, which restore blood flow through the carotid artery. An example is carotid stenting
• Aortic interventions, which stabilize and restore blood flow through the aortic artery
• Vascular trauma
• Dialysis access
• Venous surgery
The most frequent allegations in medical malpractice suits involved diagnostic errors, a complication of open surgery, or negligently performing (botching) a surgical procedure. Additionally, in my experience, some vascular surgeons run into problems when they recommend endovascular surgery for patients whose conditions actually require open surgery.
Because of the critical role of the vascular system, negligence or mistakes by a vascular surgeon and failure to follow the standard of care can be life-threatening.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of care involving a vascular surgeon, then contact a top-rated skilled Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your potential case.