Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) involves the buildup of fatty deposits and plaque that block the flow of blood through arteries in the lower extremities. When there is a decrease in the blood supply to the legs, the most common symptom is pain or cramping when walking, also known as claudication. If left untreated, PAD could potentially lead to gangrene and amputation.
The traditional open surgical approach for this disease had been to bypass the clogged artery with an arterial graft. But doctors at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital use a much less invasive procedure called balloon angioplasty and stenting. Under local anesthetic and through a tiny puncture in the groin area, a small balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the affected artery and advanced to the site of the blockage. The balloon is inflated to flatten the fatty deposits and widen the artery. Then a stent — a small, metal tube or “scaffold” — is inserted to keep the artery open.
What are the advantages of minimally invasive peripheral angioplasty and stenting?
- Small puncture instead of long open incisions
- Less trauma to muscles and other tissue
- Avoidance of surgery-related complications
- Shorter hospital stay; most patients are discharged within 24 hrs
- Shorter recovery time for return to normal activities