Angioplasty and stenting procedures are extremely important for the management of blockages in arteries to the heart, legs, kidneys, and carotid arteries to the brain.
Angioplasty is generally performed from the artery in the groin or arm to gain access to the blockage requiring treatment. A very small balloon attached to a thin catheter is inserted into a blood vessel through a small nick in the skin. Then, the catheter is threaded under the X-ray guidance to the site of the blocked artery. Once positioned, the balloon is inflated, thereby pushing the atherosclerotic material up against the vessel wall.
Sometimes, a small metal scaffold, called a stent, is inserted to keep the blood vessel open. Once deployed, the stent becomes encapsulated through the addition of new lining cells within days of the procedure. Stents have reduced the incidence of recurrent blockages after balloon angioplasty.
Other techniques may be used during the procedure including Atherectomy, the removal of the blockage using a cutting device, or Thrombectomy, the removal of a blood clot using a device that sucks out the clot. These procedures generally require an overnight stay in the hospital.
If clinically indicated, referral can be made to a vascular surgeon if the surgical treatment is deemed to be the most appropriate.
*Drs. Driesman , Meizlish , Fishman, Tuohy and Krichavsky have board certification in invasive cardiology.