What is Angioplasty?

An angioplasty is a medical procedure that opens up blocked or narrowed blood vessels with minimally invasive surgery. A specially trained doctor, known as an Interventional Radiologist, performs this procedure in the radiology department. During the procedure, the Interventional Radiologist places a catheter (a small tube) into your blocked or narrowed artery. There is a balloon on the end of the catheter. When the balloon is in the area of the blockage, the doctor inflates the balloon. Inflating the balloon stretches out the artery, improving blood flow through the area. The Interventional Radiologist uses x-rays and contrast (x-ray dye) to help guide the catheter into exactly the right place for the angioplasty.

Why do I need Angioplasty?

The most common reason for an angioplasty is to relieve a blockage of an artery. This blockage is usually caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis occurs gradually as fat and cholesterol build up on the insides of your arteries. Plaque can partially or completely obstruct the blood flow. Other causes of artery blockage, such as fibromuscular dysplasia, arteritis, or a blood clot. Arteries are tubes which carry blood and oxygen to all the tissues of your body. When an artery becomes narrowed or blocked, the tissues to which that artery goes do does not get enough oxygen.

The symptoms you feel depend on which artery is blocked. For example, a blocked artery in the legs may cause pain when you walk or even when you are resting in bed. A blocked artery to a kidney may cause high blood pressure. A blocked artery to the intestines can cause pain in your stomach when you eat.

Some blockages are best treated with surgery and some are best treated with angioplasty, and some with a combination of angioplasty and surgery.

For any questions or concerns

Contact the Radiology and Medical Imaging department at 434-924-9400.