Balloon Angioplasty: A Viable Treatment Option for Patients with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
DID YOU KNOW…One in every 20 Americans over the age of 50 has Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a very common medical condition in which a buildup of plaque (fatty deposits and cholesterol) makes it difficult for blood to circulate through the arteries. PAD most commonly affects the legs but can also damage arteries in the kidneys, abdomen, feet, ankles, pelvis, hips, buttocks and arms.
Although medication and reducing risk factors – including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, losing weight and stopping smoking – are often the first steps in managing PAD, Balloon Angioplasty has proven to be a successful option to help restore blood flow through the arteries.
What is Balloon Angioplasty & Stenting?
Balloon angioplasty is a procedure in which a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted through an artery and guided to the place where the artery is narrowed. Once the tube reaches the narrowed artery, a small balloon at the end of the tube inflates for a short time. The pressure from the inflated balloon presses the plaque against the wall of the artery to improve blood flow. In most cases, a small, expandable tube called a stent is put in place at the same time. Reclosure of the artery is less likely to occur if a stent is used.
How do I know if I’m a candidate?
You may be a candidate for angioplasty and stenting if you have moderate to severe narrowing or blockage in one or more of your blood vessels. Usually, you will also have symptoms of artery disease, such as pain or ulceration, in one of your limbs.
How is it performed?
Here is the best news. Balloon angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning the recovery time is much shorter than with traditional surgery. Dr. Lam will usually insert the angioplasty catheter through a small puncture point over an artery in your groin, your wrist, or your elbow. Although you may be given some mild sedation, he will usually want you to stay reasonably alert to follow instructions and describe your sensations during the procedure.
What are the benefits?
The primary benefit of balloon angioplasty and stenting is restored blood flow to the affected area due to a reduction in the narrowing of the artery, and then the stent keeps the opening created by the balloon from closing again. Most patients are able to return to normal activities shortly after the procedure and major complications are not common. Additionally, balloon angioplasty is usually performed using only local anesthesia, which involves fewer risks than general anesthesia.
Angioplasty and Stenting Advances
Being touted as a “game changer” in the treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease, drug-coated balloons have shown promise in helping keep leg arteries open. New techniques involve using balloon angioplasty to open a narrowed artery as before, but the balloon is coated with the drug paclitaxel, previously used as a chemotherapy drug, which is applied to artery walls to prevent blockages from recurring.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with PAD, angioplasty and stenting could help. Contact Dr. Lam today for an evaluation.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.