Intro to vascular science:
Cardiovascular disease is the world’s largest and most impactive health problem, and is thought to contribute to approximately one-third of all deaths worldwide (World Health Organisation 2019), with many more people being affected by a wide range of cardiovascular disorders every day.
While up to 85% of these conditions are attributed to heart attacks and strokes, the remaining 15% of cardiovascular disorders encompasses a variety of congenital and acquired conditions affecting every part of the body, including aneurysms, blood clots, venous reflux and poor circulation.
Vascular science is an exciting and rapidly evolving area of medicine that combines dynamic diagnostic modalities with cutting-edge imaging and interventional techniques to identify and treat an extensive array of vascular diseases.
Vascular scientists predominantly use duplex ultrasound to investigate arterial and venous diseases, which is a modality that combines structural imaging (known as B-mode) with dynamic imaging of moving targets (known as Doppler), allowing high quality investigation of blood vessels and the blood flow patterns within them.
The circulatory systems spread throughout the body, therefore the wide range of vascular disorders that patients present with provides a uniquely diverse array of cases for vascular scientists, allowing practitioners to gain experience and knowledge in various field of medicine and intervention.
Additionally, many vascular patients with life-long conditions such as aneurysms will present to the department under regular surveillance, meaning that they are often greeted at their appointments by a friendly and familiar face.
Overall, vascular science is a continuously expanding discipline linked to innovative diagnostic and interventional technologies that offers an opportunity for practitioners to grow and progress as clinical scientists, whilst developing problem-solving skills to overcome new challenges and help improve people’s lives every day.
“As a 3rd year STP student and trainee vascular scientist, I have immensely enjoyed my time with the programme and the OUH Trust. I love the diversity that vascular science provides – every day is unique with a new set of challenges to face and overcome. Because vascular science is such a broad field that is constantly developing, there is always more to learn and more invaluable experience to gain.
We work very closely with the vascular surgeons and interventional radiologists, which allows us as trainees to witness and be involved with cutting-edge vascular and endovascular interventions, including innovative techniques such as occluding damaged veins with high-frequency radio waves and aortic aneurysm stenting.
One of my favourite aspects of working in vascular medicine is the regular surveillance programmes for aneurysms and vascular interventions, which allows me to get to know patients over the course of their treatment and follow-up – it’s always nice to see a familiar face when you’ve had a busy day!
The highly technical nature of vascular science allows for some incredibly innovative research – my own research project involves using tomographic ultrasound technology to recreate 3D models of blood vessels, which is very beneficial for planning surgical intervention (also – it’s really cool).
The MSc is constructed in such a way that all of the lecture material and assignments are intrinsically linked to your day-to-day practice, which is highly useful in supporting your theoretical and practical knowledge in order to improve your clinical practice.
If you’re passionate about science, medicine and working closely with people in an exciting environment that offers numerous opportunities for personal and professional development, then I highly recommend a career in vascular science.”