What Is Angioplasty and Stent Placement?

Angioplasty with the placement of stents is a minimally surgical procedure used to widen or open blocked arteries. This procedure is performed on various parts of your body contingent on the affected artery site. It only requires a tiny cut.

Angioplasty is a procedure where your surgeon inserts a tiny balloon to increase the size of an arterial. A stent is a small mesh tube placed into the artery and left in place to stop the artery from closing. Your doctor might suggest aspirin or antiplatelet medications like Clopidogrel (Plavix) to stop bleeding around the stent or may prescribe medications to lower cholesterol levels.

Why Peripheral Angioplasty and Stent Placement Is Done

If you have high cholesterol levels, the fatty substance known as plaque may adhere to the walls of blood vessels. This is known as atherosclerosis. As plaque builds up within your arteries, the arteries will shrink. This makes it harder for blood flow.

Plaque can build up anywhere in the body. This includes arteries that run through your legs and arms. These arteries and the other arteries farthest from the heart are referred to as peripheral arteries.

Stent and angioplasty are two options to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This condition is characterized by the narrowing of the arteries of your legs.

The signs of PAD are:

  • A cold sensation in your legs
  • The color of your legs can change as you age
  • Legs numbness
  • leg muscles that are cramped after exercise
  • erectile dysfunction in men
  • Pain that is relieved by movement
  • discomfort in your toes

If medications and other treatments do not help with the PAD, your doctor might recommend angioplasty or the placement of stents. It can also be used as an emergency procedure when experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

The Risks of the Procedure

Every surgical procedure is associated with risks. The risks that come with angioplasty, as well as stents, comprise:

  • allergic reactions to medicines or dye
  • breathing issues
  • bleeding
  • blood clots
  • Infection
  • kidney damage
  • the artery is narrowing again, or restenosis
  • The artery is ruptured

The risks involved with angioplasty are not significant. However, they can pose serious risks. Your doctor will guide you to determine the advantages and dangers of this procedure. In some instances, the doctor can prescribe anti-clotting medication like aspirin for up to one year following your procedure.

How to Prepare for the Procedure

There are many ways you’ll have to plan your plan. It is recommended to follow these steps:

  • Inform your doctor of any allergies you may have.
  • Inform your doctor about the medications or herbal supplements you’re taking.
  • Discuss with your physician any health condition you suffer from, for example, the common cold or flu, or any other conditions, like kidney disease or diabetes.
  • Avoid eating or drinking any liquid, including water, for the night before the procedure.
  • You should take any medication prescribed by your physician.

How the Procedure Is Performed

Angioplasty with stent placement usually is completed in one hour. The procedure could be longer if stents have to be put in multiple arteries. You’ll receive an anesthetic local to calm your mind and body. The majority of people remain awake during the procedure, but they’re not feeling any discomfort. There are several steps in the procedure:

Making the Incision

Angioplasty with the placement of stents is a minimally invasive procedure done by making a tiny incision, typically in your hip or groin. The aim is to make an incision that allows your physician access to the narrowed or blocked blood vessel causing health problems.

Locating the Blockage

Through the incision, your surgeon inserts an extremely small, flexible tubular referred to as the catheter. They’ll guide the catheter through your arteries to reach the blockage. During this procedure, the surgeon will examine the arteries using an imaging X-ray, also known as fluoroscopy. The doctor might use an X-ray dye to detect and pinpoint the blockage.

Placing the Stent

The surgeon will insert an untidy tube through the catheter. Another catheter connected to a balloon will be guided by the wire that guides. When the balloon is in the blocked artery, it will be inflated. This causes your artery to open, allowing blood flow to flow back.

The stent will be placed in the same manner as the balloon is being inflated and expands as the balloon. When the stent is secured, your surgeon will remove the catheter and check that the stent is securely in the correct position.

Some stents, known as drug-eluting stents, are covered with a medication that releases slowly into the bloodstream. The artery is kept clean and free of obstruction and helps to prevent the possibility of blockages in the future.

Closing the Incision

After stent placement, the incision will be sealed and dressed, after which you’ll be transported to a rehabilitation room to be observed. A nurse will be monitoring your heart rate and blood pressure. The movement of your body will be restricted during this time.

Most angioplasties with stents require an overnight stay to ensure there aren’t any issues. However, some patients can go home that same day.

After the Procedure

The site of your incision will be swollen and bruised for a few days after the procedure. Additionally, your mobility will be restricted. However, small walks on flat surfaces can be tolerated and recommended. Beware of climbing and descending the stairs or taking long walks within the first two or three days after the procedure.

It is also possible to refrain from certain activities, such as working in the yard, driving, or even sports. Your physician will let you know when you can resume normal activities. Always follow any directions your surgeon or doctor provides you after your surgery.

The full recovery process can take as long as eight weeks.

When your wound heals, it is recommended to clean the area to avoid infection. It would help if you also replaced the dressing frequently. Inform your doctor right away when you observe these signs near the incision site:

  • swelling
  • redness
  • discharge
  • The unusual sensation of pain
  • bleeding that cannot be prevented with a bandage

Also, you should consult your physician immediately if you notice:

  • swelling in your legs
  • chest pain that won’t go away or go away
  • breath shortness that won’t disappear
  • chills
  • A fever that is higher than 101 degF
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • Extreme weakness

Outlook and Prevention

Although angioplasty using stents targets a specific blockage, it does not address the root cause of the blockage. To prevent blockages from occurring again and decrease the risk of developing other medical issues, you may need to make some changes to your lifestyle, for example:

  • eating a heart-healthy, healthy diet by cutting down on sodium, saturated fats, and processed foods
  • getting regular exercise
  • stopping smoking if you smoke can increase the chance of getting PAD
  • managing stress
  • using cholesterol-reducing medication if recommended by your physician

Your doctor might also recommend the long-term use of anticlotting medications like aspirin following the procedure. Do naot stop taking these drugs without speaking to your doctor first.

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