An angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure performed by vascular surgeons or radiologists that improves blood flow in an obstructed or narrowed artery. Arteries become ‘hardened’ when plaque builds up in them over time, causing limited amounts of blood that travels to your limbs or organs. This process is called atherosclerosis and can cause damage to the part of the body that does not get a healthy amount of blood.
An angioplasty is a common operation and is generally considered a safer alternative to more invasive vascular procedures.
A vascular surgeon or radiologist will insert a thin catheter into your body and guide it to the blocked area, with the assistance of X-ray imaging. Once at the blocked site, the catheter’s balloon, called an angioplasty, is blown up to widen the opening.
This process is repeated until the plaque has been flattened against the artery wall, allowing for blood to resume flowing freely. Typically, an angioplasty only takes a couple of minutes to complete and is relatively pain-free.
Some people may experience or be at risk for a re-narrowing of the artery where they had the operation over the course of time. If your physician thinks you may be at risk, he or she may suggest a stent be put in to prevent future atherosclerosis.
After an angioplasty, a vascular surgeon may insert a stent to reinforce the blocked area of the artery to prevent future obstruction from plaque. A stent is a tiny spring-like mesh tube containing a small balloon. Your vascular surgeon guides the stent through the same opening they used during your angioplasty to the widened section of the atherosclerosis-affected artery.
There, the surgeon inflates the balloon inside the stent, causing the stent to expand to fit the size of the artery. The catheter is then removed and the operation is complete. The stent will support your artery wall from closing again while allowing blood to flow normally inside the artery.
Why Choose Our Vascular Surgeons?
At Methodist Healthcare, our hospitals have some of the most experienced and highly trained vascular surgeons in the San Antonio and South Texas region. When you need excellent vascular care, you can trust the vascular specialists at our hospitals and clinics.