Aortoiliac occlusive disease is a common circulatory disorder in which the iliac arteries become narrow or blocked. The iliac arteries branch from the aorta (a large artery that is the body's primary supplier of blood) to carry oxygen-rich blood into your legs.

Aortoiliac occlusive disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis (thickening or hardening of the arteries). Risk factors that contribute to this disease include:

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Tobacco use

Many of these risk factors can be reduced or eliminated by changing your lifestyle.

Caring for aortoiliac occlusive disease is one of many offerings for vascular care at Ohio State.


Aortoiliac occlusive disease can cause discomfort, cramping or pain in the hips, thighs, buttocks or calves during physical activity. The pain may stop when you rest. As the disease develops, you may feel pain in your feet and toes even while resting.

Aortoiliac occlusive disease can easily go undiagnosed. If you have any of the symptoms described above, be sure to inform your physician. This condition can lead to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.


Aortoiliac occlusive disease can be diagnosed with tests including:

  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI) – An exam that determines how well your blood is flowing by comparing the blood pressure in your legs to the blood pressure in your arms
  • CT angiogram (computed tomography angiogram) – An imaging procedure that uses CT technology to produce cross-sectional, detailed images of blood vessels
  • Doppler ultrasound – A noninvasive diagnostic tests that uses high-frequency sound waves to determine the speed and direction of blood flow in the heart


Aortoiliac occlusive disease treatments work to control the symptoms and stop the progression of the disease. It is possible to positively affect your artery condition with a few lifestyle changes. First, quit smoking. Tobacco not only damages your arteries, but also increases complications related to aortoiliac occlusive disease. To slow atherosclerosis, strive for a healthy weight. A low-fat and high-fiber diet will help your arteries become healthier. Introduce walking a few times a week into your routine.


You may be prescribed medications to lower blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Other medications may be given to improve blood flow and relax blood vessel walls.


Angioplasty, a nonsurgical procedure used to open heart arteries, also is used to reopen arteries and reduce blockage in the legs. A stent may also be placed inside the artery to keep it open.

Ohio State’s vascular surgeons are experienced in the use of all other technologies for minimally invasive treatment of peripheral artery diseases including cryoplasty, mechanical atherectomy, laser atherectomy and pharmacomechanical thrombolysis.

Vascular surgery, including creating a bypass graft using a blood vessel from another part of the body or a tube made of synthetic material, may be recommended. The graft is placed in the area of the blockage to reroute blood flow.

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