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Peripheral arterial angioplasty is a procedure done to treat a narrowed or blocked artery in an arm or leg. This restores blood flow to the limb and helps relieve symptoms. In some cases, a metal mesh tube called a stent may then be placed into the artery to hold the artery open. The procedure is done by a specially trained doctor called an interventional radiologist.
Follow any instructions you are given on how to prepare, including:
Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the procedure.
Tell the technologist what medications, herbs, or supplements you take; if you are, or may be, pregnant; or if you are allergic to contrast medium (x-ray dye) or other medications.
An IV (intravenous) line is put into a vein to give you fluids and medications. You may be given medication to help you relax and make you sleepy. A local anesthetic is given to keep you from feeling pain where the catheter (thin, flexible, tube) will be inserted.
A very small incision is made over the insertion site. A catheter is inserted through the incision into the artery. The movement of the catheter is watched on a video monitor.
Contrast medium is injected through the catheter into the artery. This helps the artery show clearly on x-ray images. Using these images as a guide, the radiologist moves the catheter to the narrowed or blocked part of the artery.
When the catheter reaches the narrowed or blocked area, a special balloon attached to the catheter is inflated (angioplasty). This widens the passage through the artery.
Sometimes the artery won't stay open after the angioplasty. In this case, a stent is needed. A catheter with a stent attached is threaded through the artery. When the stent is in the right position, it is opened.
When the procedure is done, all catheters and balloons are removed. The stent remains in place. Pressure is put on the insertion site for 15 minutes to stop bleeding.
You may be told to lie flat and keep the leg with the insertion site straight for 6 hours to prevent bleeding.
You may stay in the hospital for a few hours or overnight.
Drink plenty of fluids to help flush the contrast medium from your system.
After you go home, care for the insertion site as directed.
You may need to take aspirin or anticoagulant medication after the procedure to help prevent blood clots in the stent. Talk to your doctor about this.
Bruising at the catheter insertion site
Damage to the artery, including worsening of the blockage
Problems due to contrast medium, including allergic reaction or kidney damage
Restenosis (reblockage) of the artery, often within 6 to 18 months