Skip to Content

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

Contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:

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.