What are angioplasty and stents?
Angioplasty is a medical procedure in which blocked or narrowed arteries are widened.
Angioplasty involves your doctor using a balloon to stretch an artery that is narrowed or blocked. However, most modern angioplasty procedures also include the insertion of a stent (a short wire mesh tube) into the artery. The stent is left in place permanently to allow blood to flow more freely.
When is angioplasty needed?
The arteries are what supply the necessary blood supply needed by the body’s organs. But in older people, they can narrow and harden, which can cause vascular disease. This disease leads to various problems such as pain.
Often, these pains can be treated with medication prescribed by your doctor. But your doctor may suggest angioplasty if the drugs and physical exercise are not enough. The aim is the same: to restore blood flowing through the arteries and veins.
How does angioplasty and stent placement work?
For an angioplasty, you will be given a local anesthetic, then your surgeon will make a small incision (cut) in your thigh. Through this incision he will insert a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into one of your arteries. A video X-ray machine will be used so that your doctor can be guided through the blood vessel.
When your doctor gets the catheter in the right position, he or she will guide a thin wire along the entire length of the affected artery, which is designed to deliver a small balloon into the section of the artery that is affected. Once the balloon reaches the area that needs to be widened, the doctor will inflate it to widen the artery. By inflating the balloon, fatty deposits on the artery wall are crushed. After they are crushed, blood can flow freely through the artery again when the deflated balloon is removed.
How long does the procedure and recovery take?
The angioplasty and stenting procedure takes about an hour and often you will be able to leave hospital shortly after the procedure. However, there are cases where you may need to stay overnight in hospital.
Your vital signs will be monitored both during and after the procedure and you may be able to have a light meal later in the day.
As angioplasty is not a difficult procedure, you will recover easily, if there are no complications. However, you will need to avoid heavy lifting, strenuous activities and driving for at least a week.
Benefits of angioplasty
This procedure may be beneficial for you if you suffer from leg pain when walking (intermittent claudication) or if you have restricted blood supply to your legs (leg ischemia) as a result of diabetes. The angioplasty and stenting procedure can also be a treatment for peripheral arterial disease and for narrowed or blocked arteries in your kidneys.
Angioplasty and stenting is a way in which blood flow is restored, and this brings with it many benefits, such as: relief from pain caused by restricted blood flow, improved kidney function, and protection of the brain from strokes.
What are the risks of angioplasty and stent placement?
The success rate of the procedure is usually around 90-95%, although it varies depending on the extent and complexity of blockages in the artery. For most patients, improvements are significant and visible soon after the procedure: pain is reduced and wounds in the affected area heal much faster and much better.
There are, however, situations where restenosis occurs, i.e. the affected artery becomes blocked again. You should keep an eye on your symptoms and keep in touch with your doctor, because if problems occur again, you will need to be treated again.
As the procedure is minimally invasive, minor complications can occur, but are extremely rare. These include bleeding, bruising and infection.
Also, although the surgeon will do everything possible to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction, there is a risk of a reaction to the dye used in the imaging technique.
If you are experiencing vascular problems and need to have an angioplasty, VenArt doctors are at your service. They are specialists with decades of experience, specializing in renowned clinics in Europe and the USA, and will do all the tests you need, then help you make the best decision for you.
If you’d like a consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us.