Can angioplasty be used to treat peripheral artery disease (PAD)?

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You may think of angioplasty as a procedure used to treat the arteries of the heart, the coronary arteries. However, this technology is now being used for carotid artery disease, which is a cause of strokes, and for peripheral artery disease, a condition in which a patient has blockages in blood vessels of the legs or arms.

The blood vessels through which blood flows can become narrowed and blocked by the build-up of plaque or fatty deposits. Traditionally, blockages in these arteries have been treated with bypass surgery - a major “open” operation. (“Open” surgery requires the surgeon to cut the skin to “open” the patient.) More recently, physicians have begun to treat blockages in the peripheral arteries with balloon angioplasty and stenting.

Balloon angioplasty is a procedure in which a thin, flexible tube called a balloon catheter is threaded through an artery to the site of a blockage. The interventional cardiologist who is performing the procedure then opens and closes a small balloon at the tip of the catheter to push the blockage aside and restore blood flow through the artery. The catheter may also be used to place a permanent metal, mesh tube called a stent in the artery to prop it open and prevent the artery from collapsing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.