Angioplasty and Vascular Stenting

What are Angioplasty and Vascular Stenting?

Angioplasty, with or without vascular stenting, is a minimally invasive procedure performed to improve blood flow when there is narrowing in the body’s arteries or veins and is usually performed in an interventional radiology suite.

In an angioplasty procedure, imaging techniques are used to guide a balloon-tipped catheter, a long, thin plastic tube, into an artery or vein and advance across the area of vessel narrowing or blockage. The balloon is inflated to open the vessel, then deflated and removed.

A small wire mesh tube called a stent may be permanently placed in the newly opened artery or vein to help it remain open. There are two types of stents: bare stents (wire mesh) and covered stents (also commonly called stent grafts).


What are some common uses of the procedures?

Angioplasty with or without vascular stenting is commonly used to treat conditions that involve a narrowing or blockage of arteries or veins throughout the body, including:

narrowing of large arteries (aorta and its branches) due to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a gradual process in which cholesterol and other fatty deposits, called plaques, build up on the artery walls.

peripheral artery disease (PAD), a narrowing of the arteries in the legs or arms. In patients with PAD, angioplasty alone or angioplasty with stenting may be used to open up a blocked artery in the pelvis, leg or arm.

How does the procedure work?

Using image guidance, an inflatable balloon mounted at the tip of a catheter is inserted through the skin into an artery and advanced across the site of an arterial blockage where the balloon is inflated to open the vessel and then deflated once the vessel is open. In this process, the balloon expands the artery wall, increasing blood flow through the artery. A stent may be placed at the treatment site to hold the artery open.

It is common for patients to feel some mild discomfort when the balloon is inflated because the artery is being stretched. Discomfort is more prominent when veins are dilated. Your discomfort should lessen as the balloon is deflated.

The catheter insertion site may be temporarily bruised and sore.

For several hours, your catheter site will be checked for bleeding or swelling and your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored. Bleeding risk at the vascular entry site when veins are treated is less likely,