Angioplasty, or peripheral vascular angioplasty, is a medical procedure that opens narrowed or blocked blood vessels, arteries, or veins that is less invasive than bypass surgery. It it usually performed with vascular stenting, in which plastic or mesh rods are inserted into veins or arteries to keep them open.
Vascular Stenting Relieves Arteries and Veins Clogged With Plaque
We perform peripheral vascular angioplasty with stenting. Veins and arteries that are not treated with stents during angioplasty are more likely to become narrow again, a condition called restenosis. Stents were developed to keep veins and arteries open after angioplasty is completed.
Veins and arteries can become narrowed or clogged, which interferes with blood and oxygen flow to and from the heart and lungs. Here are some of the more common medical conditions that call for angioplasty treatment, with an without stents:
- Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a condition where arteries in the legs (and sometimes arms) become clogged with fatty deposits (plaque) often caused by high amounts of LDL cholesterol
- Atherosclerosis, a narrowing or hardening of large arteries such as the aorta and its branches, caused by cholesterol plaque buildup
- Carotid Artery Stenosis in which arteries in the neck, which carry blood to the brain, are narrowed
- Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), when the coronary arteries that carry blood and oxygen to the heart muscle become narrowed
- Narrowing of the central veins found in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis
- Narrowing in dialysis fistula or grafts created to deliver dialysis services
Angioplasty performed on arteries usually involve inserting balloon stents, which are inflated to keep the arteries (which are larger and thicker than veins) open.
We Specialize in Vascular Stenting in the Legs
PAD most often occurs in the legs. Sometimes behavioral changes such as increased exercise, sticking to a diet that boosts HDL cholesterol while reducing harmful LDL and triglycerides, and medication will improve blood flow and make PAD manageable. However, these steps may not be enough.
Surgeons still perform artery bypass in the legs, which involves putting in a graft made from a plastic tube or implanting a vein from the other leg (as long as it isn’t affected by PAD) to reroute blood. Vascular stenting in legs is less invasive. Stents are placed through catheters inserted into small cuts in the leg between the groin and knee, near the artery or vein.
There are a few different ways to perform vascular stenting in legs:
- A surgeon inserts a plastic or wire mesh tube into the artery and threads a balloon through it. The balloon is inflated for a short time to reopen the artery and removed once the surgeon is satisfied with the amount of blood flowing through the unblocked artery.
- Self-expanding stents are inserted into a blocked artery to open it. Some types have balloons that expand and push the stent into place. Once the stent is properly positioned, the balloon is removed.
- Drug-coated stents slowly release medication that helps keep the artery open. They remain in place.
Most patients feel the benefit of stents within eight weeks. The improved blood flow in the leg reduces pain and may even end it. Once a patient is free of pain, it’s much easier to begin and maintain an exercise schedule!
How long a stent will remain is decided on a per-case basis: about half of all stent patients in the U.S. are still reaping the benefits of leg stents two years after the procedure.