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Peripheral Artery Angioplasty: Before Your Procedure

What is a peripheral artery angioplasty?

Peripheral artery angioplasty (say "puh-RIFF-er-rull AR-ter-ree ANN-jee-oh-plass-tee") is a procedure to help blood flow better. The procedure widens or opens narrowed blocked arteries, typically in the pelvis or legs. This may help with pain or help wounds heal better.

Your arteries can get narrowed by a substance called plaque. Plaque is a buildup of fats in your arteries.

You may be awake for the procedure. You will get medicine to prevent pain and help you relax (anesthesia). First, your doctor will do a test to find narrowed arteries. They will put a tiny tube into an artery in your groin or leg. This tube is called a catheter. The doctor moves the catheter through the artery and puts a dye into it. The dye makes your arteries show up on X-ray pictures. This lets the doctor see any narrowed parts of the arteries.

If your doctor finds a narrowed artery, they may do an angioplasty. To do this, the doctor uses a catheter with a balloon at the tip. It goes into the artery in your groin or leg. They move the balloon to the narrowed area and inflate it. The balloon presses the plaque against the walls of the artery. This makes more room for blood to flow. The doctor may also put a stent in your artery. A stent is a small tube that helps keep the artery open. It can also keep small pieces of plaque from breaking off and causing problems.

You may need to spend the night in the hospital. Then you will have to take is easy at home 1 or 2 days after the procedure.

Have a responsible adult take you home (do not drive yourself). If you live out of town, it’s a good idea for you to stay somewhere overnight within 1 hour of an emergency care hospital. Don’t drive for the next 24 to 48 hours or while you’re taking strong pain medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before the procedure?

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, ask your doctor if you should stop taking them before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your procedure. You may need to start or stop taking certain medicines a week or more before the procedure. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. Take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your healthcare provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
  • The procedure often takes 1 to 3 hours.
  • After the procedure, pressure will be applied to the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. Then the area may be covered with a bandage or a compression device. This will prevent bleeding.
  • Nurses will check your heart rate and blood pressure. The nurse will also check the catheter site for bleeding.
  • You will need to lie still and keep your leg straight for several hours.
  • You may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. This is normal and will go away.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • Arrange for extra help at home after the procedure, especially if you live alone or provide care for another person.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your procedure. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

Activity

  • After the procedure, don’t do hard exercise or lift anything heavy (more than 4.5 kg or 10 lb.) until your doctor says it’s okay, usually for about 1 week. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking. Try not to bend, squat, or climb stairs for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Don’t wear tight or stiff clothing over the procedure site.
  • Go back to regular exercise when your doctor says it’s okay. Walking is a good choice.
  • You will probably need to take a few days off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel. If your job includes heavy lifting, using machines, or hard activity, talk to your doctor about when you can go back to work.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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