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Intervention for peripheralvascular disease

Peripheralvascular disease refers to potentially dangerous blockages in the blood vessels outside the heart and brain. It is similar to coronary artery disease, only instead of blocking blood flow to the heart, it blocks blood flow to vital organs such as the kidneys or stomach, or to an arm or a leg. An interventional radiologist can sometimes use a method called catheterization to treat peripheral vascular disease. During catheterization a long, thin, flexible tube is directed toward the blockage to deliver treatment.

Treatments

  • Angioplasty: a tiny balloon inserted into a narrowed blood vessel can widen the opening and restore blood flow to vital organs and extremities.
  • Vascular stent: a tiny metal coil that is inserted into a narrowed blood vessel to reinforce a weak area to prevent it from closing.
  • Thrombolysis: clot-dissolving medication delivered through a catheter directly to potentially dangerous blood clots.
  • Thrombectomy: Removal of a blood clot.
  • Bypass graft: creating a detour around a blocked artery.

How to prepare

  • Do not eat or drink for six to eight hours before the procedure.
  • Arrange for a ride home after the procedure.
  • Discuss your medications with your doctor.

What to expect

You will wear a hospital gown during the procedure. At the start of the procedure, you will be positioned on the examining table and images will be taken to map exactly where the catheter will be directed. After the first set of images, you will be connected to monitors to track your heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse during the procedure. A nurse or technologist will insert an IV line into your arm or hand for medications and fluids. You will be under general anesthesia during the procedure.

Your skin will be cleansed with a special soap, and possibly shaved, at the site where the catheter will be inserted, and a local anesthetic will be used to numb the site.  A small cut is made in the skin at the groin, and the catheter is inserted.

The first set of images is used as a roadmap to direct the catheter. When the catheter is in place, a special dye is injected, and another set of images is taken to ensure that the catheter is in the proper location. When the location is confirmed, the necessary treatment is administered to the diseased are of the blood vessel or artery.

Once the treatment has taken place, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied to the incision site to stop any bleeding. A dressing will be applied to the site, but no stitches will be needed.

Recovery

  • You will be given specific wound-care instructions before you leave.
  • You may experience some soreness at the catheter entry site as the numbness wears off.
  • Do not drive for at least 12 hours after the procedure.

After an invasive procedure, a follow-up program may be recommended to assist in your recovery and help you get back on the right path for long-term cardiovascular health.

Learn more about symptoms and risk factors for peripheral vascular disease.

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