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Vascular surgery

Vascular surgery focuses on diseases of the vascular system, or veins, arteries and lymphatic circulation, and covers everything from minimally-invasive procedures to surgical reconstruction.

Our legs support us in everyday life, our hobbies and our athletic activities.

Minor leg health problems are not uncommon and in the vast majority of instances are safely managed by self-directed measures.

However, when your leg issues go beyond this and become persistent, it is important not to ignore the problem, as it may be a clue to a more significant health concern. 

The symptoms that may be a signal that all is not well include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain on walking, relieved by rest
  • Numbness
  • Leg discolouration
  • Itching
  • Cold feet
  • Wounds that fail to heal.

A surgical subspecialty which focuses on diseases of the vascular system, or veins, arteries and lymphatic circulation, vascular surgery covers everything from minimally-invasive procedures to surgical reconstruction. 

Our Consultant Vascular Surgeon here at BMI Albyn Hospital can help with the following:

  • Varicose veins – if you have varicose veins, your veins (usually those on the legs and feet) will be swollen and enlarged. Your veins might be either blue or dark purple. They may also be bulging or twisted in appearance, with symptoms including heavy, heavy legs, burning or throbbing, dry, itchy skin, and muscle cramps (especially at night). In cases which may suggest a risk of ulceration, the skin can appear darkened in colour.
  • Tired, achy, swollen legs – achy legs can be a symptom of varicose veins (above) or they can occur for other reasons, including wear and tear, overuse, or injury. Sometimes swelling may be caused by varicose veins, without there necessarily being veins visible on the surface.
  • Painful legs on walking – painful legs when walking can be attributed to a number of problems. The importance of this symptom is in determining if the symptoms experienced are caused by disease of the arteries in the circulation of blood to the legs, atherosclerosis. When this is the case, the condition is described as Peripheral Arterial Disease and your symptom is referred to as claudication.  The importance of this condition is that there may be circulatory disease in arteries supplying other important areas. Once diagnosed, in many instances, treatment can be by lifestyle changes, risk factor modification and drug therapy. 
  • Arterial health and aneurysms (swelling on the blood vessel) – when an artery wall weakens, it can create a bulge, or distension of the artery; this is known as an aneurysm – and if left, it can rupture, which can be life-threatening. 

When you visit BMI Albyn Hospital, your Consultant Vascular Surgeon will take a full medical history, ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing and perform an examination of your circulation.

In most cases, an ultrasound duplex scan will be required to assess your circulation. This information, combined with the detailed history and examination, will be considered in order to make a definitive diagnosis. This will help in the co-production of a safe patient-focused personalised treatment plan. In most cases, the scan will be done during your visit.

Diagnostics you may need include:

  • An ultrasound duplex scan – the scan uses soundwaves to monitor the body’s circulatory system and help identify blockages in the arteries, reverse flow of blood in varicose veins, aneurysmal swellings as well as detect blood clots in veins.
  • Doppler pressure – this non-invasive diagnostic test helps detect blood flow in small arteries when pulses are not readily felt. The hand held Doppler machine will make an audible sound which mimics the heartbeat and gives useful information to describe the characteristic of each pulse.

Your Consultant Vascular Surgeon will aim to maintain your desired quality of life via the treatment offered, as well as your functional activity. Your Consultant will also look to reduce your immediate risk from the abnormality and future risk.

Below, we look at some of the reasons you might choose BMI Albyn Hospital for vascular surgery conditions:

Clinical centre of excellence – Of the modern minimally invasive procedures for varicose veins, Endovenos Laser Therapy Ablation is used regularly at Albyn Hospital. EVLT was initially introduced in Scotland from Aberdeen by our surgeon.

Our Vascular surgeon, with colleagues, has contributed much to the research base and helped define the safe place of these modern interventions in clinical pathways. Our surgeon not only introduced this technique but trained many of the early adopters from other centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.

Currently, we are one of only a few sites in Scotland that also provide a foam-based keyhole procedure – Mechanicochemical closure of varicose veins. In addition, we of course provide traditional varicose vein surgery but with modern technology.

Most importantly, we are able to take a very patient-focused approach and combine many of these techniques to give a truly bespoke service, drawing on the strengths of each intervention. Our surgeon works very closely with his anaesthetic colleague and will aim to have you safely discharged home within a short period of time after your full recovery. A range of anaesthetic techniques will be discussed with you.

Reduced waiting times – Patients who visit BMI Albyn Hospital can look forward to shorter waiting times than if they were to pursue treatment on the NHS, for example. Not only are the waiting times for the first appointment short but follow-up appointments can be made and delivered with confidence and flexibility.

Flexible appointments – You can choose an appointment time, which suits you and your schedule – and in some cases, remote consultations will be offered too, which can help those who may need to travel further for an appointment. 

Consultant-led appointments – Your appointment will always be Consultant-led, and you’ll see the same person each time you visit us here at BMI. You will also see a Consultant who has a special interest in your issue – and if investigations or surgery is required, most can be done at the Albyn Hospital. For your convenience, consultations can be either face-to-face or telephone based.

Remote consultations – You may have the opportunity to use a platform like Microsoft Teams to chat to a consultant from the comfort of your home. 

A multidisciplinary clinic – Our team offers a multidisciplinary approach to your healthcare. Working closely with a dedicated team of radiologists and cardiologists here at BMI Albyn –a combined team will be available for those complex patients without long waiting times. With the ability to scan at your clinic and access rapidly CT and MRI scanning, all options are fully covered on site at BMI Albyn.

Patient satisfaction and personalised care – In an independent survey* in 2020, 98.9% of our patients said they would recommend the hospital and its treatments. 

Patients visit our vascular surgery clinic from as far away as the Highlands and islands, including Moray. A fair few patients come from Tayside (Dundee) and Glasgow too.

For anyone considering a vascular surgery consultation at BMI Albyn, you can book an appointment online. 

Specialists Offering Vascular surgery

Mr Michael Sharp

Consultant Vascular Surgeon

MB BS, FRCS (General Surgery)

BMI Albyn Hospital

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