Angioplasty & Stent Placement

Angioplasty is a procedure using liquid inflated balloons 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. An arterial atherectomy uses either very rapid rotating diamond dusted drills or catheters with very small cutting blades to remove atherosclerotic lesions from the inside of blood vessels. A stent is a small, metal mesh tube that keeps the artery open. We have specialized drug coated ones that help to keep the vessels open longer. Angioplasty atherectomy, and stent placement are three ways to open blocked peripheral arteries.

Angioplasty & Stent Placement

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. Atherectomy “bores”open the artery. A metal stent is often placed across the artery wall to keep the artery from narrowing again.

To treat a blockage in your legs these techniques can be done in the following:

  • Aorta — the main artery that comes from your heart
  • Artery in your hip or pelvis
  • Artery in your thigh
  • Artery behind your knee
  • Artery in your lower leg

Your surgeon will then place a tiny needle into the blood vessel in your groin, wrist or foot vessel. A tiny flexible wire will be inserted through this needle.

  • Your surgeon will be able to see your artery with live x-ray pictures. Dye will be injected into your body to show blood flow through your arteries. The dye will make it easier to see the blocked area.
  • Your surgeon will carefully guide a thin tube called a catheter through your artery to the blocked area.
  • Next your surgeon will pass a guide wire through the catheter to the blockage.
  • The surgeon will push another catheter with a very small atherectomy device to “core” open the blood vessel and then use a balloon inside the vessel to expand and deliver drugs to the vessel wall to keep it open..
  • The balloon is then filled with fluid. This opens the blocked vessel and restores blood flow to your legs.

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.

Why the Procedure is Performed

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.

The risks of angioplasty and stent placement are:

  • Allergic reaction to the x-ray dye
  • Bleeding or clotting in the area where the catheter was inserted
  • Damage to a blood vessel
  • Damage to the artery in the groin, which may need urgent surgery
  • Kidney failure (higher risk in people who already have kidney problems)
  • Misplacement of the stent

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