Angioplasty uses imaging guidance to insert a balloon tipped catheter into a narrow or blocked blood vessel where the balloon is inflated to open the vessel and improve blood flow. This may be done in conjunction with vascular stenting – the placement of a small wire mesh tube within the blood vessel to help keep it open. The procedure is much less invasive than other surgical interventions and usually does not require general anesthesia.
Interventional Radiologists pioneered angioplasty and stenting, which was first performed to treat peripheral arterial disease. Balloon angioplasty and stenting has generally replaced invasive surgery as the first line treatment for PAD (peripheral artery disease). This is a minimally invasive treatment that does not require surgery, just a nick in the skin the size of a pencil tip.
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs. When plaque builds up in the body's arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body. PAD usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it can also affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. People who have PAD may have symptoms when walking or climbing stairs, which may include pain, numbness, aching, or heaviness in the leg muscles. Symptoms may also include cramping in the affected leg(s) and/or in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Symptoms may ease after resting. These symptoms are called intermittent claudication.
To determine if you have PAD, your physician will perform a test called an 'ankle-brachial index', which compares your blood pressure at your ankle to that of your upper arm. Those measurements should be about the same. If the blood pressure in your ankle is a lot lower, you may have peripheral arterial disease. An ultrasound, CT scan or MRI of your abdomen and legs may also be ordered to better visualize the blockage. If your case is severe, your physician may order an angiogram to understand exactly where the blockage is.
For severe peripheral arterial disease, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive procedure to bypass a blocked artery and restore blood flow. Treatments for peripheral artery disease (PAD) include heart healthy lifestyle, quitting smoking, medicines, interventional minimally invasive procedures and/ or surgery. The overall goals of treating PAD include reducing risk of heart attack, stroke, and reducing symptoms of claudication ( pain in your legs when walking). Treatment is based on your signs and symptoms, risk factors, and the results of physical exams and tests.
Treatment may slow, alter, or stop the progression of the disease. Without treatment, PAD may progress. This can result in debilitating disease resulting in your inability to heal ulcers/sores, increased risk of infection, inability to walk, and in the worst case scenario – limb loss. The Interventional Radiology physicians at RRIA will meet with you, evaluate your condition, order any non invasive imaging, and perform the needed procedures to get you back on your feet.