Angioplasty and Stenting [return
to the list of articles]
Arteries and veins are the blood vessels which transport blood
throughout the body. The arteries take blood away from the heart
and the veins return the blood back to the heart. The arteries can
be affected by the condition known as arteriosclerotic disease which
is a build up of fatty deposits or plaque along the blood vessel
walls and can cause blockage of the blood flow. This decrease or
occlusion of the blood flow can manifest in a number of symptoms
depending on the location of the disease.
Arteriosclerotic disease of the blood vessels in the heart can
cause chest pain or angina, which may signal a warning of a heart
attack. In the brain, this disease process can cause a TIA "Mini-Stroke"
or a full stroke known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA). In the
arteries that flow to the legs such as the branches of the aorta
and illac vessels, the disease can cause pain with exercise called
claudication or rest pain. If it progresses, limb loss is an eventual
A number of medical or surgical options are available to treat
this condition. Techniques such as angioplasty or stenting are examples
of the newer, lesser invasive techniques which were first started
about 40 years ago. These procedures are used to open vessels that
are partially blocked and are causing the patient symptoms. The
procedure is done by making a small split-like opening, usually
in the groin area, then a thin guidewire with a balloon attached
is manipulated through the artery to the diseased portion of the
vessel using x-ray guidance. The balloon is then "stretched"
open "flattening" the plaque away from the blood vessel
opening thereby allowing blood to flow through the artery again.
Sometimes a wire mesh or "stent" is placed over the guidewire
to better keep the artery open and thus restore the compromised
blood flow to the extremities.
There are several benefits of these techniques. They are minimally
invasive procedures where only a very small split-like incision
needs to be made, a decrease in hospital stay and pain as well as
a decrease in recovery time. Depending on the situation, long-term
results are excellent. These procedures are best performed by a
surgeon with vascular experience. The doctor can best determine
if this technique would be of benefit. In some instances, the location
or severity of the disease warrants traditional surgical bypass
These procedures are performed here in Hazleton by Drs. Butt, Carrato,
and Bono who have had such training in this area of expertise.