When blockages in the arteries to the legs become severe enough to limit walking or put the person at risk for an amputation due to poor blood flow, various options exist to improve the arterial blood flow to the leg by opening the blocked artery. Angioplasty is also known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or balloon angioplasty. It is a common minimally invasive procedure performed at Inova that uses a balloon to open a blocked or narrowed artery and improve blood flow.
Under a local anesthetic, a small balloon catheter is placed in the artery through a puncture in the skin. The catheter is advanced in the artery across the blockage and the balloon is then inflated to “stretch” the artery open. Sometimes a stent is used to assist in keeping the artery open; the stent will remain in place permanently.
After a successful angioplasty and/or stent procedure, certain medications such as aspirin and Plavix are taken daily to help keep the artery open. In addition, routine follow-up is required to monitor the status of the treated artery.
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