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Adventitial Cystic Disease

What is Adventitial Cystic Disease?

With adventitial cystic disease, a cyst made of a mucous-like substance forms in an artery. This limits or blocks blood flow.

The condition is most common in the popliteal artery, which supplies blood to the:

  • Calf muscles
  • Feet
  • Knee joints

Adventitial cystic disease risk factors and causes

Adventitial cystic disease is rare.

Its cause is unknown, but it's far more common in young to middle-aged males than in any other group. Men get this disease five times more often than women do.

Adventitial Cystic Disease Symptoms

If you have adventitial cystic disease, you may feel:

  • Pain or heaviness in your legs or behind the knee especially when you walk or exercise.
  • Cramps in the legs.

In most cases, the pain will slowly go away when you stop moving.

For most people, symptoms of adventitial cystic disease go away after a few weeks or months.

Adventitial Cystic Disease Diagnosis

To diagnose adventitial cystic disease, your UPMC vascular surgeon will:

  • Give you a thorough physical exam.
  • Check the pulse in your foot and popliteal artery.
  • Order imaging tests.

Tests that can confirm the location and size of the cyst include:

  • Ultrasound — a type of scan that uses sound waves to image the artery and measure blood flow.
  • Computed tomographic angiography (CTA) — a type of CT scan that shows areas around the knee with poor blood flow or narrowed arteries.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) — an imaging test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to check soft tissue within the body.

Adventitial Cystic Disease Treatment

Treatment for adventitial cystic disease often includes surgery.

Your surgeon will remove the cyst and/or replace the section of the blood vessel where the cyst formed.

Make an Appointment for Adventitial Cystic Disease

To make an appointment with a UPMC vascular surgeon:

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For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

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