What Is Angioplasty?
If you suffer from the effects of peripheral artery disease (PAD), it may be time to explore your treatment options. The good news is that a vascular specialist can recommend helpful lifestyle modifications, prescribe medications, and perform special treatments when necessary. PAD treatment aims to promote better blood flow, improve mobility, and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, as well as limb amputation.
One type of treatment that may be discussed is peripheral angioplasty. Angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that opens up narrowed or blocked arteries to promote better blood circulation. Peripheral angioplasty is used to treat plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) in the arteries carrying blood to the lower extremities
Below, you can find information on angioplasty, peripheral angioplasty, balloon angioplasty, and stent angioplasty. We also discuss what to expect after an angioplasty procedure.
What Is Peripheral Angioplasty?
Peripheral angioplasty is a type of treatment for peripheral artery disease. This non-surgical procedure aims to widen or open up blocked arteries that impact the peripheries. Along with lifestyle modifications and medications, peripheral angioplasty in legs can help alleviate common PAD symptoms like leg pain, cramping, or fatigue to improve mobility and quality of life.
Your vascular specialist may recommend a balloon angioplasty or angioplasty with a stent to treat your peripheral artery disease. They will factor in location and severity of plaque buildup when considering which option is best for you.
The angioplasty procedure takes 30 to 45 minutes. General anesthesia is not usually required; instead, our specialists use a light sedative and local anesthesia so patients feel comfortable and calm throughout the entire treatment. Thankfully, stent angioplasty can be performed in an outpatient setting, so patients can recover in the comfort of their home instead of a hospital. Afterward, you will be asked to take it easy for one to two days following your procedure.
If your vascular specialist recommends a balloon angioplasty, you can expect the following during your procedure:
- First, an IV through which medications can be administered will be inserted into a vein
- Using X-ray imaging and contrast dye, your doctor will guide a catheter (thin, flexible tube) into the affected artery through a small incision in the groin, leg, or arm
- The catheter has a small balloon (not inflated) attached to its tip
- The balloon will be positioned right at the blockage
- Once in place, the balloon is filled with air
- 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 are allowed to go home
- Some patients may require an overnight stay
A stent angioplasty is a procedure similar to balloon 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 wide open and prevent pieces of plaque from breaking off and causing additional problems. Some stents are coated in slow-release medications to help prevent future blockages.
Angioplasty is considered a minimally invasive procedure. This usually means less pain, less risk, lower cost, and a shorter recovery than surgical alternatives.
After your angioplasty procedure, you can expect to feel drowsy and will require a ride home. You may experience some bruising and soreness at the site where the catheter was inserted; however, this should be temporary. Additionally, you will also be asked to drink extra fluids to flush out contrast dye through urination. Finally, we recommend that you avoid lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activity for one to two days.
Going forward, your doctor may prescribe medications like aspirin or blood thinners to promote better blood circulation and prevent blood clots or arterial spasms. To avoid complications, be sure to take your medications exactly as instructed.
How Is an Angioplasty Procedure Performed To Treat PAD?
At USA Vascular Centers, angioplasty is performed to treat peripheral artery disease in the lower extremities. The non-surgical procedure is used to widen blocked or narrowed arteries that affect the peripheries. Once the lower extremities begin to receive more blood and oxygen, PAD symptoms usually improve or resolve.
The primary difference between peripheral angioplasty and other forms of angioplasty is that it specifically targets plaque buildup in arteries that impact the peripheries.
How Long Does an Angioplasty Take?
Typically, an angioplasty procedure takes between 30 to 45 minutes depending on how many blockages are involved. Afterward, patients are usually monitored for a few hours before going home.
What to Expect After Angioplasty
After angioplasty, 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 necessarily mean that your troubles are over.
It is very important 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, we 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 vascular 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 specialized PAD treatment in dozens of center locations across the country. For your convenience, we also offer telemedicine appointments. More than anything, we want you to know that we are available to help you take back 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.