Peripheral Angioplasty

Peripheral angioplasty is a procedure that helps open blocked arteries in the legs and arms (peripheral arteries). These blood vessels may become blocked by plaque. This prevents blood from flowing normally. The procedure can help improve the blood flow.

Before the procedure

Do the following: 

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines. It also includes vitamins and herbal supplements. Tell your provider about any allergies you may have. Tell them if you have an allergy to iodine. 

  • Follow any directions you’re given for not eating or drinking before the procedure.

  • Arrange for a family member or friend to drive you home.

During the procedure

  • You may get medicine through an IV (intravenous) line to relax you. You will then have an injection to numb the area on your body where the procedure is done. This is usually an artery in the groin. Or, an artery in your wrist or arm may be used instead.

  • The provider makes a tiny skin cut (incision) near the artery.

  • They put a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through the incision. They then thread the catheter into the blocked artery. This is done with X-ray monitoring. The X-rays are used to help show where to put the catheter.

  • Contrast dye is injected into the catheter. X-rays are taken. These X-rays are called angiograms.

  • A tiny balloon is pushed through the catheter to the blockage. Your healthcare provider inflates and deflates the balloon a few times. This compresses the plaque. A small metal or mesh tube (stent) may be put in the artery. This is done to help keep it open. The balloon and catheter are then taken out.

Cross section of artery with balloon catheter inserted.
Balloon is inserted.
Cross section of artery with catheter and inflated balloon.
Balloon is inflated.
Cross section of artery showing compressed plaque and blood flowing freely.
Blood flow is improved.

After the procedure

You’ll be taken to a recovery area. Pressure is put on the incision site for 30 to 45 minutes. Your healthcare provider will tell you how long to lie down. You will need to keep the incision site still. This is to prevent bleeding. You will likely go home that day. Or you may spend the night in the facility. You will be given instructions for when you go home. 

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away or get medical help if:

  • You notice a lump or bleeding at the site where the catheter was inserted

  • You feel increasing pain at the insertion site

  • You become lightheaded or dizzy

  • You have leg pain or numbness

  • Your leg turns blue or feels cold

  • You get a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • You get a skin rash

  • You can't pee after the procedure

  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath

Online Medical Reviewer: Anne Fetterman RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Deepak Sudheendra MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2022
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