What is Peripheral Vascular Intervention?
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a serious condition that forms plaque due to buildup of cholesterol and scar tissue inside the arteries. Individuals with PAD tend to have blocked or narrowed arteries in the legs, neck, arms and abdomen. The blocked arteries decrease blood flow, cause gangrene (tissue death) which may require amputation, and may cause dangerous conditions such as kidney diseases, stroke and hypertension, if not treated.
Peripheral vascular interventions are minimally invasive procedures performed to clear plaque and restore blood flow inside the arteries.
Procedures of Peripheral Vascular Intervention
Angioplasty and atherectomy are peripheral interventional procedures used to open the narrowed arteries. These procedures are performed under the effect of local anesthesia at the site of catheter insertion or general anesthesia in certain cases.
- Angioplasty and stenting: In this procedure, your doctor inserts a catheter with a balloon at its tip into the artery of the leg or arm, to the site of blockage. The balloon is inflated to compress the plaque against the walls of the artery and improve blood flow. Your doctor may place a stent (cylindrical metal mesh) at the site of blockage to keep the artery open and keep the plaque pressed against the artery wall.
- Atherectomy: In this procedure, your doctor passes a device with tiny blades through the catheter and extends it to the plaque, where it shaves the plaque deposits from the wall of the artery. A laser may be used in some cases to break the plaque into small pieces and dissolve it in the blood.
Post-procedural Care for Peripheral Vascular Intervention
After the procedure, you may have to stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days until you recover. A dressing is placed over the catheter’s site of insertion. Drink plenty of water to flush out the dye. It is normal for the insertion site to turn red, black or blue, or swell for few days. Keep the site clean and dry. Avoid rubbing the insertion area. Avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting or sports for few days. You can resume your normal activities after consulting with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe medications for preventing clots. Immediately inform your doctor if you experience chest pain, bleeding from the insertion site, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, and foul-smelling drainage or high fever.
Risks and Complications of Peripheral Vascular Intervention
As with any procedure, peripheral vascular intervention involves certain risks and complications. They include:
- Allergy to dye
- Bleeding and infection
- Brain damage
- Irregular heartbeats or heart attacks
- Recurrent narrowing of the artery