What Is PAD?
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a circulatory disorder that occurs when narrowing blood vessels restrict blood flow to the limbs. Atherosclerosis develops when blood flow is blocked by a build-up of plaque made of fat and cholesterol. Between 8-12 million people over age 50 live with PAD in the US and may not know. Left untreated there is a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and amputation. Symptoms include leg pain, difficulty walking, skin discoloration and muscle cramps.
If you suffer from PAD, it may be time to explore your treatment options. The vascular specialists at USA Vascular Centers can recommend helpful lifestyle modifications, prescribe medications, and perform non-surgical treatments when necessary. Treatments for PAD promote better blood flow, improve mobility, and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and limb amputation.
One type of treatment is peripheral angioplasty. Angioplasty for PAD is a minimally invasive procedure that opens up narrowed or blocked arteries to promote better blood circulation. A peripheral angioplasty procedure treats plaque buildup in arteries carrying blood to the lower extremities. Below, you can find information on peripheral artery disease angioplasty, with and without stent placement. We also discuss what to expect after a leg angioplasty procedure.
What Is Peripheral Angioplasty?
Peripheral angioplasty is used to treat PAD. This non-surgical procedure widens or opens blocked arteries that impact the peripheries. Along with lifestyle modifications and medications, peripheral angioplasty in the legs can help alleviate common PAD symptoms like leg pain, cramping, or fatigue to improve mobility and quality of life.
Peripheral Angioplasty Procedure
Your vascular specialist may recommend an angioplasty for PAD with or without stent placement to treat your peripheral artery disease. They will factor in the location and severity of plaque buildup when considering which option is best for you.
General anesthesia is not required. Our specialists administer a light sedative and local anesthesia so patients feel comfortable and relaxed throughout treatment. Angioplasty is an outpatient procedure. Patients recover in their homes instead of in a hospital. Rest is recommended for one to two days following your procedure.
If your vascular specialist recommends an angioplasty, you may have questions about what takes place during the procedure:
- An IV is inserted into a vein.
- Using x-ray imaging, or angiogram, and contrast dye, your doctor will guide a catheter (thin, flexible tube) into the affected artery through a needle inserted into the groin, leg, or arm.
- The catheter has a small uninflated balloon attached to its tip.
- The balloon will be positioned right at the blockage.
- The inflated balloon compresses the plaque against the artery walls, allowing blood to flow more freely.
- Afterward, the balloon is deflated and removed with the catheter.
- You will be observed for several hours before you return home.
Angioplasty with Stent
An angioplasty with stent placement is the same as balloon-only angioplasty. The main difference is that your doctor will also place a permanent stent (small mesh tube) into the affected artery. The stent’s job is to keep your artery open and plaque fragments from breaking off and causing additional problems. Some stents are coated in slow-release medications to help prevent future blockages.
Angioplasty for legs is a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure. There is less pain and a shorter recovery than surgical alternatives. After your PAD angioplasty procedure, you will feel drowsy and require someone to drive you home. You may experience some bruising and soreness at the site where the catheter was inserted. However, this should be temporary. Drink extra fluids to flush out contrast dye through urination.
We also recommend you avoid lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activity for one to two days. Your doctor may prescribe medications like aspirin or blood thinners to promote better blood circulation and prevent blood clots or arterial spasms. Take your medications as instructed, to avoid complications.
How Is an Angioplasty Procedure Performed To Treat PAD?
At USA Vascular Centers, angioplasty is used to treat peripheral artery disease in the legs. This non-surgical procedure widens blocked or narrowed arteries that affect the peripheries. Once the lower extremities receive more blood and oxygen, PAD symptoms usually improve or resolve.
The primary difference between peripheral vascular angioplasty and other forms of angioplasty is that it targets plaque buildup in arteries that impact the peripheries.
How Long Does an Angioplasty Take?
Angioplasty takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how many blockages are involved. Afterward, patients are monitored for a few hours before going home.
What to Expect After Angioplasty
After vascular angioplasty treatment, you can expect your PAD symptoms to improve. For instance, you should be able to walk around and exercise more comfortably. Just keep in mind that symptomatic improvement doesn’t mean you are cured.
It is necessary to make relevant lifestyle modifications that improve your vascular health. Otherwise, plaque may continue to build up and eventually cause a recurrence of PAD symptoms or lead to heart attack, stroke, or amputation. To avoid additional health issues, it is generally recommend that you:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Lose excess weight
- Manage other underlying health conditions
- Take your medications exactly as prescribed
- Follow up with your USA Vascular Center specialist
Schedule a Consultation With USA Vascular Today
At USA Vascular Centers, we care about your mobility and quality of life. If you are concerned about your vascular health, we encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with one of our vascular specialists today.
We provide PAD treatment in dozens of locations across the country. We are available to help you take control of your health. There’s no need to suffer from PAD symptoms any longer. Schedule a consultation online or call us at 888.773.2193 today.