Dr. Kevin D Halow MD MBA RVT FACS
Appendicitis is an infection in the appendix. In that setting, surgically removing the appendix is curative. Fortunately for patients, the appendix does not regrow. You can only get appendicitis once. Once the appendix is removed, you will never suffer that problem again.
For those patients who have had treatment of vascular disease (you know who you are), you are not so fortunate. Whether you have had an angioplasty (we opened up an artery with a balloon), or you had your Aneurysm repaired, or even had a vascular bypass surgery to reroute blood flow around a blocked artery, your treatment is not over.
Vascular disease is the general term that we use to denote disease that affects your arteries, the muscular tubes that carry blood from your heart to all parts of your body. That disease can come in the form of plaque build-up that blocks arteries or abnormal enlargement of the arteries (Aneurysms) that require repair to prevent them from rupturing (bursting). Unlike your appendix, vascular disease is progressive. In other words, it always gets worse over time. Even though we have fixed a problem related to your vascular disease, your disease can progress, other arteries can become involved, or the repair can fail and must be redone. You can think of it as a “cancer”, per se, that we put into remission. We never really cure vascular disease, we just fix problems related to it.
That is why we are so insistent that you be followed in our vascular ultrasound lab. Our vascular ultrasound lab is fully accredited—we are tested every three years to ensure that our results meet or exceed the national standard for vascular ultrasound testing. Moreover, all of our technologists are registered specifically in vascular ultrasound; they are experts in the field and that is all that they do. Vascular ultrasound is easy, accurate, inexpensive when compared to other testing like CAT scanning, and painless. Doing your follow up ultrasound testing, when instructed, helps us keep you healthy.
So many times I hear the excuses: “I feel fine” or “You fixed the problem, why do I need to come back?”
Just remember, if we take out your appendix, you are free to go about your merry way. But if we fix a problem related to your vascular disease you must continue to follow up with us as instructed. It helps us help you. Your appendix will never regrow, but your vascular disease will always recur, it is just a matter of time. Proper vascular ultrasound follow up and regular checkups give us the best shot at keeping your vascular disease in check and maintaining your quality of life.