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Angioplasty is a term describing a procedure used to widen vessels narrowed by stenoses or occlusions. There are various types of these procedures and their names are associated with the type of vessel entry and equipment used. For example, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) describes entry through the skin (percutaneous) and navigates to the area of the vessel of interest through the same vessel or one that communicates with it (transluminal). In the case of a procedure involving the coronary arteries, the point of entry could be the femoral artery in the groin and the catheter/guidewire system is passed through the aorta to the heart and the origin of the coronary arteries at the base of the aorta just outside the aortic valve.
In individuals with an occulsive vascular disease such as atherosclerosis, blood flow is impaired to an organ (such as the heart) or to a distal body part (such as the lower leg) by the narrowing of the vessel's lumen due to fatty deposits or calcium accumulation. This narrowing may occur in any vessel but may occur anywhere. Once the vessel has been widened, adequate blood flow is returned. The vessel may narrow again over time at the same location and the procedure could be repeated.
Angioplasty procedures are performed on hospital inpatients in facilities for proper monitoring and recovery. If the procedure is to be performed in a coronary artery, the patient's care is likely to be provided by specially trained physicians, nurses, and vascular specialists. Typically, patients are given anticoagulants prior to the procedure to assist in the prevention of thromboses (blood clots). Administration of anticoagulants, however, may impede the sealing of the vascular entry point. The procedure will be performed using fluoroscopic guidance and contrast media. Since the decision to perform angioplasty may have been made following a diagnostic angiogram, the patient's sensitivity to iodinated contrast media is likely to known. The procedure may then require the use of non-ionic contrast agents.
Author Info: Elaine R. Proseus MBA/TM, BSRT, RT(R), The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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