Angioplasty and vascular stenting are procedures used to treat partially or completely blocked blood vessels. They may be performed separately or together.
What Do the Procedures Involve?
In angioplasty, the doctor uses an imaging device to guide him as he inserts a catheter tipped with a balloon into a blocked blood vessel. He inflates the balloon, which widens the vessel and improves blood flow. In vascular stenting, the surgeon inserts a small tube made of metal mesh into the blood vessel to keep it open.
Angioplasty is an outpatient procedure, and the patient is typically not given general anesthesia. The doctor will likely give them an intravenous sedative instead. The patient is connected to monitors to track their heart rate and other vital signs.
Once the patient is made comfortable, the doctor makes a small incision at the site and inserts a sheath into the vein or artery being treated. Using X-rays to guide him, the doctor inserts the catheter and maneuvers it through the blood vessel to the blockage. The doctor injects contrast material and takes an angiogram or a picture of the blocked site.
The surgeon uses X-ray guidance to move a guide wire to the site, followed by a balloon-tipped catheter. The doctor inflates the balloon. He may inflate the balloon several times at one site or move it to another blockage. The doctor will take more X-rays to determine the improved rate of blood flow. When the doctor is satisfied that the blood is flowing more readily, he removes the catheters and guide wire.
In many cases, the doctor will install a vascular stent to support the walls of the treated vein or artery. Stents can be self-expandable, which means they open up on their own after being implanted, or balloon-expandable, which means they need a balloon-tipped catheter to open them. Depending on the number of blockages treated, angioplasty can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
What Happens After the Procedure?
The patient will probably be able to go back to work a week after the operation. While the patient’s symptoms will improve, angioplasty and vascular stenting do not make heart disease go away. The patient will have to develop and maintain healthy habits to prevent blockages from developing elsewhere.
Learn More About Angioplasty and Vascular Stenting
If you are dealing with problematic veins, you should know more information about angioplasty and vascular stenting. During a consultation at Miami Vein Center in Miami, our team of vascular experts can evaluate your areas of concern and let you know if either of these procedures can relieve you of your condition. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more with our board certified surgeon.