Endovascular surgery is minimally invasive vascular surgery. Surgeons use tiny incisions to thread catheters to damaged blood vessels. They use endovascular surgery procedures to remove blood clots and improve blood flow. Endovascular surgery can help reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and other life-threatening conditions.
Endovascular surgery treats conditions affecting your blood vessels (vascular system) without making large incisions. Surgeons repair these vessels and remove blood clots to restore blood flow and prevent damage to your brain, heart, limbs and lungs.
Both endovascular surgery and open vascular surgery are procedures to access and repair blood vessels damaged by vascular disease or injury. The difference is in how the surgeon accesses the blood vessels.
Endovascular surgery, or an endovascular procedure, uses a minimally invasive approach. Surgeons make punctures into the artery with a needle and then thread small flexible tubes called catheters through the blood vessels to reach the damaged area. The lack of an incision results in less blood loss and faster recovery.
In open (traditional) vascular surgery, surgeons make incisions to reach the blood vessels.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Healthcare providers use endovascular procedures to treat many conditions involving blood vessels and heart vessels. These conditions include:
Between eight and 12 million Americans have peripheral artery disease. Healthcare providers diagnose almost 200,000 Americans with abdominal aortic aneurysms each year. Vascular disease also contributes to heart attack and stroke.
Your healthcare provider talks with you about your condition and health history. They do a physical examination and may order tests such as:
You may have sedation or general anesthesia. Your surgeon makes a puncture, usually in an artery in your groin. They use real-time X-ray images to guide them in threading a covered (sheathed) catheter through the incision to reach and repair the diseased blood vessel.
Your vascular condition and overall health determine what type of endovascular procedure you have. You might have:
Before you leave the hospital, your healthcare provider discusses your follow-up plan with you. You see your provider for follow-up visits and imaging tests. During these visits, your healthcare provider makes sure blood vessels are healing properly.
With endovascular procedures, you’ll likely spend less time in the hospital than if you had an open procedure. Because surgeons don’t use large incisions, your body can heal faster.
However, while endovascular surgery has advantages, it might not be the right procedure for your needs. Your surgeon has your long-term outcome in mind when deciding whether endovascular surgery or open surgery is best for you.
Possible complications include:
Endovascular surgery recovery times vary by procedure type. You might be able to leave the hospital on the same day, known as outpatient surgery. If the procedure is more complicated or if you need monitoring, you may stay in the hospital for a day or two.
Talk with your healthcare provider about when you can go back to work, drive, be physically active and resume sexual activity. Many people can return to regular activities in about a month.
Be sure to keep all scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider after your procedure. Let your provider know right away if you develop:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Endovascular surgery includes minimally invasive treatments for vascular disease, coronary disease and blood vessels in the brain. Surgeons use tiny incisions, catheters and stents to repair damage to blood vessels and break up blood clots. These smaller incisions help reduce the time it takes your body to heal so you can get back to your daily activities sooner.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/14/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.