Peripheral angioplasty is a procedure performed to open blockages in peripheral arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs with the help of a tiny balloon. Further blockage can be averted by placing a stent at the region of the weakened vessel.
Fatty buildup (plaque) occurs on the walls of vessels as a result of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. This causes narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis) and prevents blood from flowing freely. Blockage of the peripheral arteries is known as peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can lead to numbness, cramping, and change in color and temperature of your arms of legs. Your doctor will suggest a peripheral angioplasty if other treatments such as medications have failed to relieve symptoms.
Peripheral angioplasty and stenting is performed under local anesthesia. A small incision is made in the groin or hip. A catheter is inserted into the artery and guided to the area of blockage with the help of an imaging procedure called fluoroscopy. Dye may be injected through the catheter to help locate the area of blockage. A guide wire is inserted through the catheter and another catheter with a balloon at the tip is then guided to the area of blockage where the balloon is inflated relieving the blockage and allowing the free flow of blood. A stent may be left at this site to prevent the vessel from blocking again. Stents may be coated with a medication that prevents plaque buildup (drug-eluting stents). Following the procedure, the balloon and catheters are removed and the incision is closed. You are taken to a recovery room for monitoring and observation.
As with any minimally invasive procedure, peripheral angioplasty and stent placement carries the risks of bleeding, clot formation, infection, artery rupture or re-blockage requiring further procedures, and allergy to the dye or medication.