If you have been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease (PAD), your doctor may recommend angioplasty. PAD is a progressive condition caused by plaque buildup that leads to narrowed arteries. When arteries are narrowed or blocked by plaque, blood flow is restricted, which means less oxygen and nutrients get through to your muscles. PAD can be diagnosed in the arms, but it is more commonly seen in the legs.
You may find it difficult to walk for long periods or exercise due to pain in your legs, which is the most common symptom of PAD. The specialists at USA Vascular Centers provide high-quality vascular care, including diagnosing and treating PAD using angioplasty.
Main Types of Angioplasty for PAD
When considering treatment options, your doctor may discuss an angioplasty. Several types of angioplasty exist, which may be recommended depending on your condition:
- Laser angioplasty: A laser is used to turn the blockage into vapor
- Carotid artery angioplasty: A balloon is used to compress plaque buildup in the carotid artery
- Cerebral angioplasty: Opens blocked arteries in the neck and the brain
- Balloon angioplasty: Opens narrowed arteries in the legs
- Stent placement: A wire mesh stent is placed in the affected artery
The decision on which procedure to use will depend on the location of the plaque buildup and the severity of the condition.
At USA Vascular Centers, our vascular doctors’ recommendations aim to have the most effective impact on your PAD symptoms and be the most effective at preventing the progression of the disease into more serious health conditions. Balloon angioplasty and stent placement are the preferred types of angioplasty treatment for PAD because they specifically focus on treating the legs.
A vascular doctor performs balloon angioplasty using X-ray imaging and contrast dye to identify the location of the blockage. Once the blockage is found, a catheter with a deflated balloon attached to its end is guided to the diseased artery. There, the balloon is inflated, compressing the plaque buildup. This type of procedure may alleviate the painful symptoms of PAD, whereas a stent angioplasty can decrease the chance of your arteries narrowing again.
This procedure is similar to balloon angioplasty, however, it utilizes a wire mesh stent to keep narrowed arteries open for blood circulation rather than a balloon. A vascular specialist will use X-ray imaging called fluoroscopy and contrast dye to detect the blockage. A catheter with a stent is inserted into the affected artery. Once the stent is in position, the catheter is removed, leaving the stent to permanently hold the artery open. If your vascular specialist is concerned that your arteries may clog again, stent placement may be the best option for you.
How to Prepare for Angioplasty Procedure
Once you and your doctor have decided that an angioplasty procedure is the best treatment for your condition, you will want to prepare for it.
- Inform your doctor of any medications you are taking. They may request you to stop certain medicines for a period of time before the procedure.
- You may be required to fast for several hours before treatment to avoid complications with your procedure.
- Coordinate with someone who will drive you home post-procedure.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing that is comfortable and easy to manage in case you are slightly groggy from the sedation.
What to Expect When Getting Angioplasty Procedure
You may feel less anxious if you know what to expect when having the angioplasty procedure done. The angioplasty procedure is non-surgical with no stitches required, and no general anesthesia is necessary. Your vascular specialist will first numb the area where the catheter will be inserted into the body, which is usually through the groin. They may also prescribe a light sedative to help you feel calm if you are overly nervous.
The vascular doctor will insert the catheter into the artery while using X-ray imaging to monitor positioning. At the end of the catheter is a balloon that is inflated at the point of blockage.
Contrast dye is then injected into the artery to show where the blockage is located. Once the balloon is inflated, it will compress the plaque to open up the artery before finally being deflated and removed. Once the catheter is removed, you will be monitored for a few hours before you are released to go home.
For most patients, the recovery time for balloon angioplasty or stent angioplasty is minimal. Since this is an outpatient treatment, you will be able to go home the same day. However, you will likely feel drowsy and need someone to drive you home.
To get your energy back, you will need to take it easy for a couple of days after treatment. You can expect light bruising at the site of the insertion and mild soreness that usually fades a few days afterward. Most patients are back to their normal activities within 1-2 days.
Schedule a Consultation with USA Vascular Team
The experienced vascular doctors at USA Vascular Centers are committed to providing high-quality, personalized care through your treatment journey, from diagnosis to recovery. Schedule a consultation or give us a call at 888.773.2193.