Balloon Dilation and Stenting of Popliteal artery

What is balloon dilation and stenting

Balloon dilation is a procedure in which a specialist using a small inflatable balloon reopens a narrowed or blocked blood vessel.

Stenting is a procedure in which a specialist inserts a small metal tube in the narrowed or blocked part of the blood vessel, which allows the artery to stay opened.

What is peripheral arterial disease (PAD)?

PAD is a very common problem where the blood flow in the extremities is reduced as a result of a narrowed blood vessels.

Narrowing or blockage is most commonly caused by thickening of the arterial walls, caused by plaque build-up. Plaque is made up from fats, cholesterol, calcium and other matters. Less frequently, the cause may be vasculitis, extremities injuries or radiation exposure.

There are many risk factors that may contribute to development of PAD but most common are smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and age.

What are the symptoms of blocked arteries in the legs?

The main and most common symptom is claudication. The term claudication is leg pain or cramping that occurs during physical activity, and withdraws after a few minutes of rest. The localization of the pain depends on which blood vessel is blocked, but the most common localization is in the calf.

Other common symptoms include weakness in the muscles of the leg, diminished sensitivity in leg, coldness in leg or feet, changes in the skin color in the affected leg, weakened pulsation etc.

Balloon Dilation and Stenting of Popliteal artery procedure

Balloon dilation and stenting of popliteal artery is done under the local anesthesia, but you may get a mild sedative. A breathing tube is usually not required, however, some patients may require general anesthesia.

The specialist will make a small incision on site after which he will insert a catheter into the blood vessel. Once the catheter is in place, contrast material will be injected into the artery to perform an angiogram (an x-ray picture of the inside of the blood vessels) which will help identify where the blockage is. As the contrast material passes through your body, you may feel warm. This will quickly pass.

When he identifies where the blockage is he will guide the balloon to the site and inflate it.

Sometimes using just a balloon dilation is not able to sufficiently widens the artery   and he will need to place a stent.

When the procedure is complete, the catheter is removed and pressure is applied to stop any bleeding. Sometimes, your doctor may use a closure device to seal the small hole in the artery. 

When the procedure is done, you will be transferred to a recovery room or to a hospital room and usually you can go home the same day.

How should you prepare for Dilation and Stenting of Popliteal artery

It’s important to tell your doctor about any medication you take, especially if you are on any blood thinner medications. Women should inform the medical staff if they are pregnant or suspect that they might be.

The night before the procedure you should have a light meal. You shouldn’t drink any alcoholic beverages at least 24h before the procedure.

On the morning of procedure, take only the medications that your doctor told you to take with a sip of water.

Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.

Recovering from the procedure

This procedure does not require an overnight hospitalization.  In general, you should be able to go home a few hours after the procedure is completed. At home, you should rest and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid lifting heavy objects and strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours. 

After the procedure, you may be prescribed aspirin or blood thinners. These drugs can prevent blood clots from forming. Your doctor will monitor the effect of some medicines with frequent blood tests.