Angioplasty is a procedure that uses a catheter and a balloon to open up blocked arteries.
Stenting happens after angioplasty during which your surgeon inserts a small metal device in the artery. The stent helps keep the artery open and improve blood flow.
In addition to these treatment methods, your surgeon may use a device that removes the plaque in a process called atherectomy.
Benefits of Treatment
Peripheral angioplasty and stenting open a narrowed or blocked artery in your extremities, like your arms or legs. This treatment can prevent the need for more invasive procedures, such as bypass surgery.
Your doctor may suggest angioplasty and stenting if you have peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can cause:
- Chronic pain in your legs.
- Heavy feeling in your legs.
- Limitations to your daily activities.
- Wounds on your legs or feet that do not heal.
Before Your Angioplasty and Stenting Procedure
Before your procedure, your vascular surgeon will conduct a thorough exam.
He or she will use imaging tests — like ultrasound or a CT scan — to find the blockages and see how severe.
What to Expect During Peripheral Angioplasty and Stenting
During your procedure, your surgeon will:
- Insert a tiny needle into the blood vessel in your groin or upper arm.
- Thread a soft guidewire through the needle and advance it to the right location while watching it with live x-ray.
- Inject a dye through the needle that aids in finding the arterial blockage(s).
- Insert a small device that looks like a tiny balloon inside your artery.
- Inflate the balloon and compress the plaque outward on the walls of the artery to opens it, allowing for better blood flow.
- Insert a stent — a mesh tube made of metal. The stent serves as a permanent metal scaffold to keep the artery open.
Depending on your condition and overall health, you may be able to go home the same day. Most people spend one day or less in the hospital.