Angioplasty (also called percutaneous
transluminal angioplasty, or PTA) is a procedure in which a thin, flexible tube
called a catheter is inserted through an artery and guided to the place where
the artery is narrowed.
When the tube reaches the narrowed
artery, a small balloon at the end of the tube inflates for a short time. The pressure from the inflated balloon presses the fat and calcium
(plaque) against the wall of the artery to improve blood flow.
angioplasty of the aorta (the major abdominal artery) or the iliac arteries
(which branch off from the aorta), a small, expandable tube called a
stent is usually put in place at the same time.
Reclosure (restenosis) of the artery is less likely to occur if a stent is
used. Stents are less commonly used in angioplasty of
smaller leg arteries like the femoral, popliteal, or tibial arteries, because they are subject to trauma
and damage in these locations.
What To Expect After Treatment
After the procedure, you will rest in
bed for 6 to 8 hours. You may have to stay overnight in the hospital. After
you leave the hospital, you can most likely return to normal activities.
Why It Is Done
This procedure is commonly used to
open narrowed arteries that supply blood flow to the heart. It may be used on
short sections of narrowed arteries in people who have
peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
How Well It Works
Angioplasty can restore blood flow and relieve intermittent claudication.1 Angioplasty can help you walk farther without leg pain than you did before the procedure.2
How well angioplasty works depends on the
size of the blood vessel, the length of blood vessel affected, and whether the
blood vessel is completely blocked.
In general, angioplasty works best in the following types
- Larger arteries.
- Arteries with
short narrowed areas.
- Narrowed, not blocked, arteries.
Complications related to the catheter include:
- Pain, swelling, and tenderness at the catheter
- Irritation of the vein by the catheter (superficial
- Bleeding at the catheter site.
- A bruise
where the catheter was inserted. This usually goes away in a few
Serious complications are
rare. These complications may
- Sudden closure of the artery.
- Blood clots.
- A small
tear in the inner lining of the artery.
- An allergic reaction to the contrast material used to view the arteries.
- Kidney damage. In rare cases, the
contrast material can damage the kidneys, possibly causing
There is always a slight risk of damage to cells or tissues
from being exposed to any radiation, including the low levels of X-ray used for
this test. But the risk of damage from the X-rays is usually very low
compared with the potential benefits of the test.
What To Think About
In some cases, bypass
surgery may be the best treatment choice. This treatment choice depends on your
risks with the procedure, the size of the arteries, and the number and length
of the blockages or narrowing in the arteries.
Your doctor may recommend that you try an exercise program and medicine before he or she recommends that you have angioplasty.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease: Should I Have Surgery?
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Hirsch AT, et al. (2006). ACC/AHA 2005 practice
guidelines for the management of patients with peripheral arterial disease
(lower extremity, renal, mesenteric, and abdominal aortic): A collaborative
report from the American Association for Vascular Surgery/Society for Vascular
Surgery, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society for
Vascular Medicine and Biology, Society of Interventional Radiology, and the
ACC/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Develop
Guidelines for the Management of Patients With Peripheral Arterial Disease):
Endorsed by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary
Rehabilitation; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Society for Vascular
Nursing; TransAtlantic Inter-Society Consensus; and Vascular Disease
Foundation. Circulation, 113(11): e463–e654.
Cassar K (2011). Peripheral arterial disease, search date May 2010. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Other Works Consulted
Eisenhauer AC, et al. (2012). Endovascular treatment of noncoronary obstructive vascular disease. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1368–1391. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Fuad Jan, M, et al. (2011). Minimally invasive treatment of peripheral vascular disease. In V Fuster et al., eds., Hurst's The Heart, 13th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2355–2385. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
Current as of
||October 26, 2013