You had angioplasty (ballooning) of a peripheral artery, a blood vessel that supplies blood to your legs or arms. You may have also had a stent placed. These procedures were done to open a narrowed or blocked peripheral artery.
Your surgeon inserted a catheter (flexible tube) into your blocked artery through a tiny hole in your groin. Your surgeon used x-rays to guide the catheter up to the area of the blockage. Then your surgeon passed a guide wire through the catheter to the blockage. A balloon catheter was pushed over the guide wire and into the blockage. The balloon on the end was blown up. This opened the blocked vessel and restored proper blood flow to your heart. A stent is usually placed to prevent the vessel from collapsing again.
What to Expect at Home
Your groin puncture may be sore for several days. You should be able to walk farther now without needing to rest, but you should take it easy at first. Full recovery from this procedure may take 6 - 8 weeks.
If the doctor put the catheter in through your groin:
Walking short distances on a flat surface is okay. Limit going up and down stairs to about 2 times a day for the first 2 to 3 days.
Do NOT do yard work, drive, or play sports for at least 2 days, or for the number of days your doctor tells you to wait.
You will need to care for your incision.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you how often to change your dressing (bandage).
If your incision bleeds or swells up, lie down and put pressure on it for 30 minutes. If the bleeding or swelling does not stop or gets worse, call your doctor and return to the hospital, or go to the closest emergency room. Or, call 911.
Walk short distances 3 to 4 times a day. Slowly increase how far you walk each time.
When you are resting, try keeping your legs raised above the level of your heart. Place pillows or blankets under your legs to raise them.
Angioplasty does not cure the cause of blockage in your arteries. Your arteries may become narrow again. To lower your chances of this happening:
Eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking (if you smoke), and reduce your stress level.
If you are taking medicines for blood pressure or diabetes, take them the way your doctor has asked you to.
Your doctor may recommend that you take aspirin or another medicine, called clopidogrel (Plavix), when you go home. These medicines keep blood clots from forming in your arteries and in the stent. Do NOT stop taking them without talking with your doctor first.
There is bleeding at the catheter insertion site that does not stop when pressure is applied.
Your leg below where the catheter was inserted changes color or becomes cool to the touch, pale, or numb.
The small incision from your catheter becomes red or painful, or yellow or green discharge is draining from it.
Your legs are swelling.
You have chest pain or shortness of breath that does not go away with rest.
You have dizziness, fainting, or you are very tired.
You are coughing up blood or yellow or green mucus.
You have chills or a fever over 101 °F.
You develop weakness in your body or are unable to get out of bed.
Creager MA and Libby P. Peripheral arterial disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Libby: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 57.
Eisenhauer AC, White CJ. Endovascular treatment of noncoronary obstructive vascular disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 59.
Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.