Peripheral Vascular Disease Angioplasty and Stenting

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)  is a condition in which the blood vessels (veins and arteries) become blocked or narrowed, which can affect the way that blood flows through the body. Peripheral vascular disease can affect the blood vessels of the legs and arms, as well as organs of the abdomen, like the stomach and kidneys.

The objective of angioplasty and stenting for peripheral vascular disease is to restore proper blood flow through arteries or veins that have become blocked or narrowed, and are therefore experiencing a decrease in blood flow. The interventional radiologists at MedStar Washington Hospital Center are experts in the minimally invasive treatment of peripheral vascular disease using angioplasty and stenting procedures.

Why Peripheral Vascular Disease Angioplasty and Stenting Is Performed

Angioplasty and stenting help restore proper blood flow that has been affected by peripheral vascular disease, as well as relieve symptoms associated with PVD. Peripheral vascular disease angioplasty and stenting can be combined with lifestyle changes to treat the underlying cause of PVD.

Peripheral vascular disease can develop due to various conditions, including:

  • Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arterial walls)
  • Smoking
  • Certain conditions, like diabetes

Symptoms experienced with peripheral artery disease generally occur in the area of the blockage, and may include:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Cramping

What to Expect During Peripheral Vascular Disease Angioplasty and Stenting

Before the procedure begins, a nurse will administer a sedative to the patient through an intravenous line, and the interventional radiologist will inject a local anesthetic to the area to be treated. The radiologist uses ultrasound imaging to locate the blockage or narrowed part of the blood vessel. He or she then makes a tiny incision over the area and inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the affected blood vessel and carefully guides it to the blocked area. The catheter will have a small balloon attached to the end, which the radiologist inflates to open the blockage.

The radiologist leaves the balloon inflated for a few minutes before deflating, and may inflate the balloon a few more times until the blood vessel remains open on its own and blood flow has either significantly increased or has been restored. If the blood vessel continues to collapse, the radiologist places a stent into the blood vessel that will keep it permanently open. 

Risks and Benefits of Peripheral Vascular Disease Angioplasty and Stenting

Minimally invasive angioplasty and stenting for peripheral vascular disease offer patients numerous benefits, including:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Faster recovery time
  • Lower risk of complications
  • The use of a sedative instead of general anesthesia, so patients can go home the same day

Risks associated with angioplasty and stenting for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to the treated blood vessel
  • Complete closure of the blood vessel

How to Prepare for Peripheral Vascular Disease Angioplasty and Stenting

Patients should discuss all medications they are currently taking with their medical team prior to scheduling an angioplasty and stenting procedure. Some medications can increase the risk of certain complications, so patients may be asked not to take them for a few days before their angioplasty. Patients should follow all instructions given to them by their physicians before the procedure.

Post Peripheral Vascular Disease Angioplasty and Stenting

Following an angioplasty and placement of a stent, patients should rest for the remainder of the day at home. Patients will be instructed to avoid strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours after the procedure, and may be given a blood-thinning medication to avoid the formation of blood clots while the area heals.

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