Narrowed blood vessels often need to be expanded to improve blood flow. This can be done with angioplasty, during which your vascular surgeon inflates a small balloon inside the narrowed vessel. Once the vessel is widened, the surgeon may opt to insert a stent, depending on your particular situation. Stents are tiny mesh tubes that reinforce the artery walls to keep the vessels wide open, thus increasing blood flow.
The procedure is typically done through a small incision or puncture in the skin, through which the surgeon inserts a catheter, the tip of which carries the angioplasty balloon or stent. Through x-ray guidance, the surgeon guides the catheter through the blood vessels to the blocked area to insert the balloon of stent. This treatment is most commonly used to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD), or hardening of the arteries supplying blood to the limbs and organs in the body.
For more information on the diagnosis, treatment, and procedures regarding vascular disease, visit www.vascularweb.org.