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:
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:
Your body isn't cut open except for a very small incision in the skin over a blood vessel in the leg, arm or wrist through which a small, thin tube (catheter) is threaded and the procedure performed. Angioplasty can take up to several hours, depending on the difficulty and number of blockages and whether any complications arise.
Angioplasty is performed by a heart specialist (cardiologist) and a team of specialized cardiovascular nurses and technicians in a special operating room called a cardiac catheterization laboratory. This room is often called the Cath lab.
Angioplasty is commonly performed through an artery in your groin (femoral artery). Less commonly, it may be done using an artery in your arm or wrist area. Before the procedure, the area is prepared with an antiseptic solution and a sterile sheet is placed over your body.
General anesthesia isn't needed. You'll be sedated but awake during the procedure. You'll receive fluids, medications to relax you and blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants) through an IV catheter. Then, the procedure begins:
If you have several blockages, the procedure may be repeated at each blockage. Because the balloon temporarily blocks blood flow to part of your heart, it's not uncommon to experience chest pain while it's inflated.
Most people who have angioplasty also have a stent placed in their blocked artery during the same procedure. The stent is usually inserted in the artery after it's widened by the inflated balloon.
The stent supports the walls of your artery to help prevent it from re-narrowing after the angioplasty. The stent looks like a tiny coil of wire mesh.
Here's what happens:
After your stent placement, you may need prolonged treatment with medications, such as aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix) to reduce the chance of blood clots forming on the stent.
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 to 8 hours after the procedure. The general angioplasty recovery time is about two weeks, but this can change based on your condition.
Various peripheral arterial occlusive lesions have traditionally been managed with surgical therapy. However, endoluminal intervention with catheter-based techniques has become quite common and, in many cases, is now the treatment of choice. Several interventional products are available for the endovascular specialist, but balloons and stents make up the core of these technologies.
Placement of a metal stent across a stenotic or occluded blood vessel is intended to maintain the patency of the vessel and reestablish flow through it by providing internal structural support. This article discusses the indications, contraindications, anesthesia, necessary equipment, positioning, techniques, and potential complications of endovascular stent placement