Special Procedures - Angioplasty

Angioplasty is a procedure performed during an angiogram to open arteries or veins, which are blocked by plaque. Radiologists often use arterial angioplasty procedures to non-surgically open vessels in the extremities, kidneys and bowel.

Venous angioplasty is mainly used to maintain dialysis access in patients with renal failure, but is sometimes used in patients with symptomatic venous blockage. Angioplasty allows inflation of a small balloon with or without a stent  within a vessel to expand it, correct blockage and improve blood flow.

For arterial angioplasty procedure, an angiogram / arteriogram  is performed. Once blocked or narrowed vessel(s) are seen on an angiogram, a balloon tipped catheter is inserted into the blocked artery and guided under x-ray to the area of interest. The balloon is inflated to break up the blockage in the vessel pressing plaque against the vessel wall enabling blood flow.

In some circumstances, a stent is mounted on the balloon tipped catheter. When the balloon is inflated, the stent is expanded and permanently adheres to the vessel walls to keep it open. The catheter is removed and firm pressure is applied for a few minutes until bleeding stops.