Vascular Infections and Complications | MedStar Health

Expert care for infections of the arteries and veins

Vascular infections occur when arteries or veins are contaminated with bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The main way this happens is through vascular surgery, especially if one of your blood vessels has been replaced, patched, or bypassed. You also can develop a vascular infection if you have a serious infection elsewhere that travels through the bloodstream, such as a urinary tract infection or even food poisoning.

Vascular infections can be dangerous without expert care. The doctors in our vascular and endovascular program are known for their care for patients with problems that affect the arteries and veins. We’re able to treat even the most complex vascular conditions.

What are the symptoms of a vascular infection?

Vascular infections can appear months or even many years after surgery. You may notice flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • Chills

  • Fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Pain

  • Sweating

If you’ve had vascular surgery in the past, one possible sign of an infection is discharge coming from the incision site. This discharge may be cloudy, and it may smell bad.


Your doctor will order blood tests to see if you have an infection. Imaging tests, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound scan, can help narrow down the location of the infection.

Angiogram (angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Arterial duplex ultrasound for arms and legs

Arterial duplex ultrasound uses Doppler and traditional ultrasound to assess blood flow in the arteries of your arms and legs.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Pulse volume recording

Pulse volume recording tests are used to evaluate blood flow through the arteries in your arms or legs.


Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat your vascular infection. You also may need surgery to remove or replace the infected blood vessel to keep the infection from coming back or to reduce your chance of another one.

Vascular disease treatments

Vascular disease treatments address conditions that affect the blood vessels, which can cause blood flow to become decreased, interrupted, or slowed.

Additional information

Vascular and Endovascular Program

Partner with a recognized leader in offering care ranging from straightforward vascular disease to the most complex vascular disorders.

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