What should I expect after an angioplasty for peripheral artery disease?

You can expect soreness and bruising after angioplasty.

Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which blockages are present in the arteries that supply the legs, feet, and kidneys with blood. (Kidney blockages are more specifically called renal artery stenosis.) One course of treatment for PAD is angioplasty, which is sometimes accompanied by stenting.

During angioplasty, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is threaded through a puncture site in the skin and through a blood vessel to the site of the blockage. A tiny balloon at the end of the catheter is opened and closed to push the plaque (a fatty substance) that is causing the blockage out of the way. A stent is a small, metal mesh tube that is expanded at the site of the blockage to permanently prop the blood vessel open to permit blood flow. 

Most patients with PAD who are treated with angioplasty and stenting are discharged from the hospital 12 to 24 hours after the catheter is removed. Many patients are able to return to work within a few days to a week after a procedure. If your interventional procedure included insertion of a stent, your interventional cardiologist or other vascular specialist will provide prescriptions for blood-thinning drugs, such as aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix), typically for a month to a year. It is very important that you follow your doctor’s instructions for these medications. And even after you begin to feel better, you should never stop taking your medications at any time without speaking with your interventional cardiologist.

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