Peripheral angioplasty is a procedure that is used to treat narrowed or blocked arteries in the circulation of the body. A common site of blockage that is often treated with this procedure is the leg (see fig. 1). The procedure uses a long, thin, hollow tube with a deflated balloon near its tip called a balloon catheter. The balloon is about as wide as the normal artery and about as long as the blockage to be dilated. Using angiography, this balloon is positioned within the blockage and inflated (see fig. 2). This “pushes” the blockage against the wall of the artery and improves blood flow through the artery (see fig. 3 and 4). The balloon catheter is removed. In most cases, a stent is also “deployed”. A stent is a metal coil or mesh tube that is expanded against the blood vessel wall. This helps keep the artery open and reduces the chance of the blockage recurring.
Figure 1: Peripheral artery disease with narrowing caused by plaque in the femoral artery.
Figure 2: Catheter being guided into the femoral artery.
Figure 3: Angioplasty being performed on a narrowed femoral artery.
Figure 4: Angioplasty balloon catheter is shown inflated, widening the artery.
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