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Aortic occlusive disease occurs when blood flow in the aorta is blocked. There are many different health conditions that can cause blockages in the aorta. Aortic occlusive disease can slow or block blood flow to the body’s major organs and cause a number of serious health issues. These include:
- Arm or leg pain with use (called claudication) or at rest
- Severe high blood pressure
- Abdominal pain when eating
- Other symptoms of organ dysfunction
The UCLA Aortic Center: Comprehensive Management of Aortic Occlusive Disease
The team approach at UCLA’s Aortic Center ensures that patients with aortic occlusive disease can be quickly diagnosed and treated. Specialists across medical disciplines, including leading cardiac and vascular surgeons and cardiologists, work together to provide a customized, effective treatment plan for our patients with a blockage in the aorta. Meet our expert team.
- Modern facilities: LA’s most technologically advanced operating rooms
- Emergency care: Surgeons on-call 24/7 for evaluating and treating aortic occlusive disease
- Advanced Treatments: The latest treatment options for aortic occlusive disease
- Causes of Aortic Occlusive Disease
- Symptoms of Aortic Occlusive Disease
- Expert Diagnosis of Aortic Occlusive Disease at UCLA
- Advanced Treatment of Aortic Occlusive Disease at UCLA
Blockages in the aorta can be due to a variety of health conditions, including:
- Atherosclerotic disease (plaque build up in the arteries)
- Aortic dissection
- Birth defects (congenital “narrowing” of the artery called coarctation)
- Swelling from inflammatory conditions such as Takayasu arteritis
The symptoms of aortic occlusive disease depend on the severity of the blockage and its location in the aorta. Symptoms can worsen depending on how much blood flow is restricted because of the blockage. Sometimes symptoms can arise quickly and be so severe that urgent medical treatment is necessary. Other times symptoms are mild enough that treatment can be delayed until further diagnostic tests determine the cause of the disease.
Symptoms can include:
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- High blood pressure
- Pain, fatigue, numbness in the arms
- Pain, fatigue, numbness in the legs
- Transient ischemic attacks
- Abdominal pain after eating leading to weight loss
At UCLA, we use a variety of methods to diagnose aortic occlusive disease. Often our doctors can make a diagnosis after a physical examination, but we also use advanced diagnostic imaging to pinpoint the exact location and assess the severity of a blockage in the aorta. The type of diagnostic test you will receive depends on your symptoms. These types of tests can include:
- Duplex Ultrasonography
- Ankle/ Brachial indices and segmental extremity pressures
- Intravascular ultrasound
- CTA (computed tomography angiography)
- MRA (magnetic resonance angiography)
Learn more about what to expect during these imaging tests.
At UCLA, we offer the most advanced treatments for aortic occlusive disease including minimally invasive endovascular surgeries and the latest medical therapies. Our team approach at the UCLA Aortic Center makes sure that you receive care for both your underlying medical condition and your aortic blockage. In many cases, medicine (such as blood thinners or anti-inflammatory medication) and surgery are both used as treatments.
If your aortic occlusive disease is caused by blood clot, our doctors use catheter-directed therapy in which a clot-dissolving drug is slowly infused into the clot over a several days. This procedure called thrombolysis allows for restoration of blood flow through the blocked artery without the need for major surgery.
In more advanced cases, less invasive endovascular intervention or surgery may be required to remove the blockage in the aorta.
Learn more about surgery for aortic occlusive disease: