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Angioplasty is used to widen a narrowed artery or open a blockage. Then a stent may be inserted to hold the artery open. More than one artery may be treated during these procedures.

A balloon tipped catheter is inserted into the artery and threaded to the narrowing or blockage.


The balloon is inflated and deflated several times. This presses the plaque against the arterial walls.


Once the artery is open, the balloon is deflated and removed. Blood flows freely through the widened channel.


A collapsed stent is mounted onto a balloon catheter and guided across the blockage.


The balloon is inflated to open the stent, which locks into place inside the artery.


The balloon is deflated and removed. The stent remains in place, holding the artery open.

While You Recover

You will need to lie flat right after the procedure. And you may be asked not to bend your leg for 2 to 6 hours. The blood flow in your legs will be closely monitored during this time. Most people are able to go home the same day. Once home, take any medications as directed. Follow all your discharge instructions for the best recovery.

If Symptoms Return

Arteries sometimes become narrowed or blocked again in the same place (restenosis). This may even occur a few months after treatment. If you notice a return of claudication or rest pain, contact your doctor. In many cases, a second balloon angioplasty can reopen the artery and reduce your symptoms.

Risk and Complications

As with any procedure, angioplasty and stenting have certain risks. They include:

  • Rupture of the treated artery
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Heart or lung complications
  • Kidney problems
  • Loss of toe or foot
  • Death (rare)

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Swelling or bleeding at the insertion site
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • A temperature of 101.4 or higher
  • A change in temperature or skin color of your foot
  • A return of symptoms similar to those you had before the procedure

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