If you want to know more about Balloon Angioplasty, then this article is definitely for you. Through the course of time, this medical procedure has become more common to hear, and this may be partially because of advancement in technology as well as with greater access in medical health care. Balloon Angioplasty is simply a non-surgical procedure which aims to relieve any narrowing or constriction of the arteries of the body. The arteries serves as passageway of blood in the body, and the blood in turn ensures that nutrients and oxygen are properly delivered in the different organs within the body. Any condition that impedes blood flow or narrows these passageways are in danger of jeopardizing the continuous blood flow in the circulatory system, and will then cause the diminished blood supply in the particular affected organ. Once there is reduced or worse, absent blood flow, it will likely to cause damage to the particular organ. Now imagine if the most important organs in the body such as the Heart, Kidneys, Livers, etc. are affected. Once the major organs are damaged, it can cause serious effects and possible immediate death. This goes to show how important this procedure is and how it can save organs from being damaged.
The narrowing of the vessels is an emergency situation that needs to be corrected as soon as possible before irreversible effects in different organs occur. Narrowing of the arteries, for instance, can be caused by various etiologies. The number one cause for arterial narrowing or obstruction is the formation of fatty plaques in the walls of the artery. These fatty plaques are a combination of the fatty deposits that are calcified and have adhered to the walls of the arteries. Because of this, the passageway of blood has decreased, thereby also diminishing the supply of blood to different organs. This process of fatty plaque deposition is medically called as arteriosclerosis and can occur in any important vessels in the body such as the coronary arteries which supplies blood and nutrients to the heart. When arteriosclerosis happens, most patients will feel varying degree of shortness of breath, chest pain, nape pain, or may even vomit. There are some instances, however, that these manifestations are absent and which are called as “silent angina”. This whole disease process is amplified for people who: smoke; eat a diet which is high in fat and sweets; frequently exposed to physical and emotional stress; and those people who have a genetic predisposition to the disease. It is important to take note though that this not limited to the coronary arteries but also to other arteries in the body as well.
Balloon Angioplasty was first described in year 1964 by the American Cardiologist Charles Dotter. Dr. Dotter first used a catheter-delivered stent and was able to dilate or relieve the narrowing of a superficial femoral artery of an 82-year old female patient who initially complained of having a painful leg ischemia and gangrene. The patient was recommended to undergo leg amputation but she refused. Instead, she opted for the angioplasty which was then unheard of. Fortunately, the operation was a success and the blood circulation was able to return gradually on her affected leg. The procedure was to dilate the stenosis or narrowing of the superficial femoral artery with a guide wire and with the use of coaxial Teflon catheters. For 2 years, the circulation on the leg of the 82-year old patient was patent and remained open until the day she died of pneumonia, which was 2 years after she had the procedure on her leg. This procedure grew popularity in the field of medicine, enough for Dr. Dotter to be called as “Father of Interventional Radiology” and nominated for Nobel Prize in year 1978. Since then, this procedure has always been a central part in treating and managing patients with circulatory problems.
Angioplasty is minimally invasive and is often preferred. A small stent is inserted into the narrowed blood vessel in an attempt to keep it open. Basically, Balloon Angioplasty can be done in different blood vessels in the body, and the name depends on the anatomic location of the affected blood vessel. This is done in patients with confirmed narrowed or obstructed arteries in the body such as the Coronary artery. Before actually doing the procedure, the doctor will do an extensive physical examination as well as different laboratory tests to check if a person can be a candidate of the procedure. As part of the routine physical examination, the doctor will ask you for any recent drug you have taken, herbs, supplements or any form of medications that may be considered as contraindication to the procedure. As a general rule, all patients that will have to undergo a Balloon Angioplasty will need to stop taking drugs that prevents the normal clotting of your blood. These drugs include Aspirin and all its related products such as any NSAIDs. Smoking is also a contraindication to the procedure. Lastly on the night prior to the procedure, everything including water is withheld after midnight.
Again, this procedure is non-invasive, so it means that there will be no large incisions that will be made in the body. Instead, a small incision is cut, just enough to introduce the needle in the body. The incision is typically made either in the femoral artery in the leg, or the radial artery or even the brachial artery in the arm. A sheath introducer is placed and maintained in the incision site to keep the selected artery patent and to minimize bleeding tendency. Next, a guide catheter is then inserted in the sheath introducer, and dyes can also be injected through this guide catheter to locate and better visualize the affected artery. With the use of the dye, the affected is better studied and analyzed with the use of X-ray. This is important so that the type of balloon catheter that should be used can be determined. After this, the doctor will then insert another material which is called the flexible guidewire through the guiding catheter. With the help of x-ray monitoring, the doctor will maneuver the guidewire into reaching the affected artery. Lastly, a hollow-tipped balloon catheter is then placed to the site of blockage. Once the last catheter is inserted in place, the balloon is inflated in order to expand the area around the affected vessel and compress the fatty plaque build-up around it. Sometimes, a stent or a wire mesh tube is also inserted along with the balloon catheter in order to keep the vessel wall expanded. After all of this, the balloon catheter is deflated and then removed from the body while the stent is left behind.
In most cases, patients will be carefully monitored overnight in the hospital after the Balloon Angioplasty is done. When the vital signs of the patient are normal and stable, they can be sent home the following morning. There are things that need to be instructed to the patient upon discharge, which includes checking for the insertion site for any bleeding, swelling, or signs of infection like redness, pain, and warmth. Patients are also instructed to avoid any heavy lifting or other strenuous activities within a week. Prolonged and heavy sports exercises will also need to be avoided for at least 2 weeks. Lastly, patients may also be prescribed with medications such as relaxants to avoid spasms of the arteries, or aspirin in the event that inflammation and mild infection occurs. Procedures wherein stents are used will need to have an antiplatelet prescribed as well.
Balloon Angioplasty has been an important component of medical intervention for people with problems with their circulation. This procedure can provide effective relief of obstruction in the vessels in 90-95% of all patients. One of the most serious complications that can arise from this procedure is when there is an abrupt closure of the supposedly dilated vessel within a few hours after the procedure is done. The abrupt closure can be precipitated by spasm of the vessel wall itself, or a combination of tearing in the walls of the vessel, as well as blood clotting on the site. Abrupt closure can also be caused by elastic recoil of the vessel in the site of application. To minimize and/or prevent this closure, the patient is given with aspirin in order to prevent the development of blood clotting on the site, and to prevent platelets from adhering to the wall of the vessels. Individuals who are at higher risk in having this complication include all women, individuals with unstable angina, or individuals with episodes of heart attack.
More and more patients choose to undergo Balloon Angioplasty compared to other treatment modalities for the treatment of obstructed vessels. While it is true that this is an effective means of correcting obstruction, it is still more important to prevent the disease from happening in the first place. To achieve this, one must have a balanced lifestyle as well as adequate nutrition in order to stay healthy and fit.