Interventional stenting is often used to improve blood flow in the arteries and veins of cardiac patients with heart disease. The interventional, or minimally invasive procedure, is called angioplasty, and is performed with our without vascular stenting (placing a small tube within the blood vessel to help keep it open). An angioplasty may be recommended if you have:
- Arteriovenous fistula
- Carotid artery stenosis
- Coronary artery disease
- Peripheral artery disease
During an angioplasty, a balloon-tipped catheter (a long, thin plastic tube) is guided to the narrowed or blocked artery or vein. The balloon is then inflated to open the vessel. Once the catheter is in place, contrast material will be injected into the vessel and an angiogram will be taken to help identify the site of the blockage and to determine how much the blood flow has improved during the procedure. When your cardiologist is satisfied that the artery has been opened enough, the catheter will be removed.
Many angioplasty procedures also include the placement of a stent, a small flexible tube made of plastic or wire mesh to support the damaged artery walls. Stents can be self-expandable (opens up itself) or balloon expandable (balloon needed to open the stent).
At the end of the procedure, the catheter will be removed and pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding. The opening in the skin is then covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed.
The length of the procedure varies depending on the time spent evaluating the vascular system prior to any therapy, as well as the complexity of the treatment. This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis. However, some patients may require hospital admission following the procedure.