Angioplasty and Stenting

For patients suffering from claudication, peripheral artery disease angioplasty with or without a stent is a minimally invasive form of therapy.

As stateds in the lower limb arterial insufficiency page, (peripheral artey disease) claudication is treated in a comprehensive manner. The primary mode of therapy is risk factor modification, smoking cessation, walking exercise and medications. Claudication is caused when your arterial circulation develops blockages or narrowings. Depending upon the location of the blockage and how long it is, some patients are candidates for an angioplasty.

An angioplasty is performed in the following manner. Patients are brought to an intervention suite where they are either sedated or put to sleep for the procedure. When adequately anesthetized, a needle is placed in an artery and a wire is threaded into the inside of the artery. A catheter is then tracked over the wire. When in place, the wire is removed and pictures are taken by injecting dye through the catheter. The pictures tell the doctor where the blockages are and whether or not the artery can be fixed with an angioplasty. If the angioplasty can be performed, the wire is placed back into the catheter and the wire is then placed across the blockage. Once across the blockage, the catheter is removed and another catheter with a balloon at the tip is tracked over the wire and placed across the blockage. Once in place the balloon is inflated and the artery is dilated. If the artery dialates appropriately the balloon is removed and the procedure is over. However, in many instances, the artery narrows again and doesn’t stay dilated. In these circumstances, a stent is placed. The stent is made of a special type of metal and is used to prevent the artery from narrowing again or collapsing on itself. After the stent is placed, the catheters and balloons are removed and the procedure is over. Patients are then sent to a recovery area where they are asked to lie flat for several hours. This is done so the puncture site does not bleed.

Post-procedure, you will be sent home with a prescription for an anti-platelet medication like Aspirin or Plavix. Angioplasty with or without stenting is a minimally invasive method for treating peripheral arterial disease and has been used for decades to treat patients with coronary artery disease. However, angioplasty is not a cure. Angioplasty and stenting should be part of an overall treatment strategy aimed at preventing arterial blockages from returning or progressing. Patients need to be followed by their doctors every three to six months for the first two years and once a year there after. The blockages in the artery can return at the same site or in different locations.