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Peripheral Angioplasty

Peripheral artery disease, also referred to as peripheral arterial disease, is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the lower extremities (legs).

When a person develops peripheral artery disease (PAD), the extremities — usually the legs — don't receive enough blood flow to keep up with the body’s needs. This causes symptoms, most notably leg pain when walking (intermittent claudication).

Peripheral angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure. These procedures are performed in a cardiovascular catheterization laboratory, under local anesthesia. An IV (intravenous line) into the arm or hand will provide medication to make the procedure as comfortable as possible. A catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the upper thigh (groin). Using high-resolution fluoroscopic (X-ray) video and film equipment, the catheter is guided through to the peripheral artery that is being treated. Once the catheter is in place the balloon is inflated and the narrowed peripheral artery is stretched open. The fatty plaque or blockage is pressed against the peripheral artery walls enlarging the diameter of the peripheral artery. After the blocked area of the peripheral artery is widened the balloon is deflated and removed. Blood flowing through the peripheral artery is increased, supplying blood to the heart.

Peripheral Stent Implants

Peripheral stents are often implanted in conjunction with balloon angioplasty. Peripheral stent implants help hold open an artery so that blood can flow through the blocked or clogged artery., The stent—a small, lattice-shaped wire mesh tube, props open the artery and remains permanently in place. The stent is passed through the catheter and implanted in the peripheral artery.

Recent technological developments have been made to help prevent restenosis, the reoccurrence of the narrowing of a blood vessel. Drug-eluting stents (DES) and balloons are now available which are coated with medication to more effectively maintain good circulation in the treated vessel. Peripheral vascular disease is a chronic condition and is usually associated with other diseases like Coronary Artery Disease or Diabetes.

Patient Guides: Preparing for Cardiac and Peripheral Catheterization