Peripheral Angioplasty Q & A
What is angioplasty?
Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that restores blood flow through a blocked artery. A peripheral angioplasty opens clogged arteries in the legs and/or feet.
What condition is treated with angioplasty?
Vascular Health Institute performs angioplasty to treat atherosclerosis. You develop atherosclerosis when cholesterol builds up on the inner lining of an artery, gradually forming plaque that thickens the artery wall and restricts blood flow. Pieces of plaque may also break off, causing a blockage in a blood vessel.
How is the procedure performed?
Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures should be performed by a specially trained interventional radiologist or vascular specialist such as an interventional cardiologist or vascular surgeon.
The procedure is as follows:
- Prior to your procedure, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed.
- You will be positioned on the examining table.
- You may be connected to monitors that track your heart rate, blood pressure and pulse during the procedure.
- A nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm so that sedative medication can be given intravenously. Moderate sedation may be used.
- The area of your body where the catheter is to be inserted will be sterilized and covered with a surgical drape.
- A very small skin incision is made at the site.
- Using image-guidance, a catheter (a long, thin, hollow plastic tube) is inserted through the skin to the treatment site.
- A contrast material then is injected through your IV and a series of x-rays are taken to locate the exact site of blockage.
- A tiny balloon inside the catheter is gently guided through the artery until it reaches the blockage. Then the balloon is inflated.
- The inflated balloon pushes fatty deposits against the artery wall, creating an opening that improves blood flow.
- At the end of the procedure, the catheter will be removed, and pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding. The opening in the skin is then covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed.
- Your intravenous line will be removed.
You can expect to stay in the recovery area for 1-3 hours after the procedure. The length of the procedure varies from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the complexity of the condition.
Is it painful either during and after the procedure?
Devices to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure will be attached to your body.
You will feel a slight pin prick when the needle is inserted into your vein for the intravenous line (IV) and when the local anesthetic is injected. Most of the sensation is at the skin incision site, which is numbed using local anesthetic. You may feel pressure when the catheter is inserted into the vein or artery.
If the procedure is done with sedation, the intravenous (IV) sedative will make you feel relaxed, sleepy and comfortable for the procedure. You may or may not remain awake, depending on how deeply you are sedated. If you are conscious, you may feel slight pressure when the catheter is inserted, but no serious discomfort.
As the contrast material passes through your body, you may experience a warm feeling which quickly subsides.
You should be able to resume your normal activities within a week.