Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to your legs. Fatty deposits can build up inside the arteries and block blood flow.
A stent is a small, metal mesh tube that keeps the artery open.
Angioplasty and stent placement are two ways to open blocked peripheral arteries.
Angioplasty uses a medical "balloon" to widen blocked arteries. The balloon presses against the inside wall of the artery to open the space and improve blood flow. A metal stent is often placed across the artery wall to keep the artery from narrowing again.
To treat a blockage in your leg, angioplasty can be done in the following:
Before the procedure:
Your surgeon will then place a tiny needle into the blood vessel in your groin. A tiny flexible wire will be inserted through this needle.
A stent may also be placed in the blocked area. The stent is inserted at the same time as the balloon catheter. It expands when the balloon is blown up. The stent is left in place to help keep the artery open. The balloon and all the wires are then removed.
Symptoms of a blocked peripheral artery are pain, achiness, or heaviness in your leg that starts or gets worse when you walk.
You may not need this procedure if you can still do most of your everyday activities. Your doctor can try medicines and other treatments first.
Reasons for having this surgery are:
Before having angioplasty, your doctor will do special tests to see the extent of the blockage in your blood vessels.
Risks of angioplasty and stent placement are:
During the 2 weeks before surgery:
Do NOT drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, including water.
On the day of your surgery:
Many people are able to go home from the hospital in 2 days or less. Some people may not even have to stay overnight. You should be able to walk around within 6 - 8 hours after the procedure.
Your doctor and nurse will explain how to take care of yourself.
Angioplasty improves artery blood flow for most people. Results will vary depending on where your blockage was, the size of your blood vessel, and how much blockage there is in other arteries.
You may not need open bypass surgery if you have angioplasty. If the procedure does not help, your surgeon may need to do open bypass surgery, or even amputation.
Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty - peripheral artery; PTA - peripheral artery; Angioplasty - peripheral arteries; iliac artery-angioplasty; fermoral artery-angioplasty; popliteal artery-angioplasty; tibial artery-angioplasty; peroneal artery-angioplasty
Creager MA and Libby P. Peripheral arterial disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cariovaslcular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 61.
Eisenhauer AC, White CJ, Biatt DL. Endovascular treatment of noncoronary obstructive vascular disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, LibbyP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 63.
Updated by: John A. Daller, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Chester, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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