What should I expect after angioplasty for renal artery disease?

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In renal artery disease, or renal artery stenosis (RAS), blockages are present in the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys. One treatment option for RAS is angioplasty and stenting. Angioplasty is a procedure in which a thin tube called a catheter is inserted through a puncture site in the skin and threaded through an artery to the site of the blockage. A small balloon at the tip of the catheter opens and closes to push the plaque (a fatty substance) that is causing the blockage aside. Then, in certain circumstances, a tiny metal, mesh tube called a stent is inserted to keep the artery from collapsing and to allow blood to flow through.

Most patients with RAS who are treated with angioplasty and stenting are released 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 or prasugrel, 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 the doctor who prescribed them.