What is endovascular cryoplasty?
Endovascular cryoplasty, also known as cryoplasty (CRY-o-plah-stee), is a type of balloon angioplasty (AN-g-o-plah-stee) procedure. It is used to treat peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Cryoplasty is therapy that uses pressure and cold to open blocked or narrowed arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood with oxygen from your heart to another part of the body. They can become clogged by plaques that decrease blood flow in the artery. Plaques are fat, cholesterol, or tissues that get stuck in the inner wall of the artery. Cryoplasty is often used to open clogged arteries in the legs. With improved blood flow, the pain, cramping, and numbness you have in your legs may be relieved and further problems may be avoided.
How is endovascular cryoplasty done?
- Cryoplasty is done with a balloon-tipped catheter device and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The device has three layers with two balloons (inner and outer). The inner balloon holds the gas and has pressure inside it. The outer balloon part expands. Between the balloons is a layer that covers the inner balloon. The middle layer serves as a marker that helps the inner balloon show up in an x-ray.
- During the procedure, a catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel at the top of your leg. It is then gently moved down into the clogged area of the artery. This is done using a special type of x-ray, called fluoroscopy. The inner balloon is filled with liquid nitrous oxide that turns into gas when it enters the balloon. The gas causes the outer balloon to slowly dilate (expand) and then cool. After the procedure is done, the catheter is pulled back out of the artery.
How does endovascular cryoplasty work?
As the balloon expands, it pushes the plaque to the artery wall and widens the space inside the blood vessel. As the balloon cools, the part of the vessel it pushes is also cooled. This weakens the plaque and causes it to break. The cooling also causes death to some cells in the area. This cell death stops scars from forming. Scars can lead to the artery clogging again.
What are the risks of having endovascular cryoplasty?
Problems with cryoplasty may include infections, trouble breathing, or getting blood clots. Even after the procedure, the artery may become narrow again. The blood vessel used for the procedure may tear and you may lose a large amount of blood. Without treatment, your leg cramping and numbness may worsen. You may tire easily, or have bad leg pains and trouble walking. If parts of your leg do not get enough blood and oxygen, the leg may need to be amputated (cut off). PVD may lead to a heart attack or stroke (blood clot in the brain). Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your procedure, medicine, or care.
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