Many people today suffer from “hardening of the arteries”. This means that their arteries are partially blocked by a substance called plaque. When these blockages occur in the legs or arms, it causes peripheral artery disease. This disease is serious and if not treated, it can lead to possible amputation or even loss of life. The disease can be treated with peripheral intervention.
Why is Peripheral Intervention Important?
All parts of your body require oxygen and nutrients to work. If the muscles and other tissues of your legs and arms do not receive oxygen and nutrients due to the arteries being blocked by plaque, they will not work well. You may experience pain and numbness. If peripheral intervention is not given, you could face amputation of the affected arms or legs.
A first step in peripheral intervention most generally will include using a catheter, doctors avoid making large surgical cuts when they remove the blockage. This procedure is minimally invasive and generally less painful than other procedures. There is less risk of infection, no large scars, and a shorter recovery time. In some cases, the patient may go home the same day.
Angioplasty and Stenting
Peripheral intervention may also include angioplasty and stenting. In angioplasty, the doctor uses a catheter to guide a small, unfilled balloon to the site of the blockage. The balloon is inflated, pressing the plaque tight against the wall of the artery. After the balloon is removed, the opening in the artery is wider and blood can flow more freely to the heart muscles.
Peripheral intervention may also include stenting. After angioplasty, the catheter may be used to place a small mesh tube, called a stent, into the site of the blockage. The stent works to keep the plaque packed against the wall of the blood vessel and the artery propped open.
Another common peripheral intervention procedure used is called atherectomy. In atherectomy, the doctor removes the plaque from the artery. He will insert a catheter. After the catheter is inserted the doctor directs a very small device with tiny blades that can precisely shave the plaque from the artery wall while safely collecting it. In some cases, the doctor may use a tiny laser that blasts the plaque into small pieces that dissolve in the blood.
Most Peripheral Intervention Procedures are Minimally Invasive
Peripheral intervention procedures can be minimally invasive. Before the procedure starts, you will be given anesthesia t minimize discomfort and pain. This is usually a local anesthetic. In the case of a local anesthetic, you’ll remain awake and be able to follow the doctor’s instructions. In other cases, you may get a general anesthetic, so you will not be awake during the procedure.
These procedures generally can take between 30 minutes to several hours. You’ll remain on your back throughout the procedure. Most of the time you can go home the same day the procedure is performed.
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