As we age, fatty deposits, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances build up in our arteries as plaque. Plaque can narrows and stiffen the arteries -- called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
The plaque limits blood flow, which can cause heart disease or other serious problems. Peripheral vascular disease occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries to the legs, cutting off blood supply and causing pain and difficulty walking. If left untreated, PFD can lead to gangrene and eventually leg amputation.
If medication fails to reduce plaque and improve blood flow, you may have an angioplasty and stenting procedure.
You will be given local anesthesia. The doctor will insert a catheter into your groin area and guide it to the blockage using fluoroscopy (a moving X-ray image projected onto a monitor). During the angioplasty, a tiny balloon is inserted through the catheter into the artery and expanded one or more times to break up the plaque and open the artery.
To keep the artery open, the doctor will then insert a narrow, wire mesh tube called a stent through the catheter. Once in place at the former blockage site, the stent can be expanded to hold the artery open.
- Less invasive than traditional "open" surgery; performed under local vs. general anesthesia
- Less bleeding and pain and in most cases shorter recovery time