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Angioplasty is a method of therapy of vascular medicine for the treatment of narrowing of the blood vessels. The doctor pushes a flexible guide wire along a narrowing in the blood vessel and expands it with an inflatable balloon (balloon dilatation).
Angioplasty is also known as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, PTA short, "percutaneous" means that access to the vessel through the skin leads therethrough; "Transluminal" means that the catheter is advanced within the vessel cavity.
The formation of plaques on a vessel wall disturbs the blood circulation or even interrupts them completely - what the doctor calls stenosis. By angioplasty, the constricted vessel is made through again. This is important, for example, in coronary heart disease (CHD) or later stages of peripheral artery disease (PAOD). In some cases, however, angioplasty is not enough to remove constrictions. Then an open surgery is necessary.
Angioplasty is usually performed in the hospital. If necessary, the patient will be given a sedative and a local anesthetic at the injection site. The doctor now introduces a flexible plastic tube, the balloon catheter, into the arterial vascular system via a vein. Mostly he uses the large inguinal artery, but sometimes also an artery in the elbow or on the wrist.
If the stenosis can not be widened by balloon dilatation alone, the physician will additionally insert a stent over the guidewire. It is a tubular vessel prosthesis made of metal. It is either inflated by the balloon or unfolds itself. The stent also remains in the vessel after angioplasty and keeps it open.
Angioplasty is now a routine procedure and a safe procedure if performed by a qualified and experienced doctor. However, as with any medical intervention, angioplasty can lead to complications.