A vascular surgeon diagnoses and manages diseases affecting any part of the vascular system, which includes the arteries, veins and lymph glands that run throughout the body. This type of surgeon does not handle arterial issues affecting the heart or the brain, which are generally reserved for cardiac surgeons and neurosurgeons, respectively.
Vascular surgeons have completed arduous training before being permitted to practice. After earning a four-year bachelor's degree, a prospective specialist must complete four years of medical school and one of several types of residencies for five to six more years. After completing their training, prospective specialists must pass tests to become board certified in general surgery and in their specialization. Upon obtaining certification by the American College of Surgeons, a surgeon may add FACS after his or her name. Each state determines its own physician licensing requirements.
At a typical first appointment, a vascular surgeon will gather your patient history, conduct an exam and order tests. While the physician can sometimes do simple tests during the first appointment, many tests must be scheduled for a later date. Among the most common vascular tests are pulse volume recordings (PVRs), duplex ultrasounds, magnetic resonance angiographies (MRA) and computed tomography (CT) scans.
It might take several weeks for the surgeon to check test results and recommend the best type of treatment. You should expect your doctor to go over the alternatives, discuss the risks and benefits of each and be generally helpful in the process of making an informed decision.
You should leave the surgeon's office with a good idea of what will happen on the day of surgery and during recuperation, as well as with important financial information.