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Peripheral Vascular Angioplasty

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about peripheral vascular angioplasty (PVA)?

PVA is a procedure to open blocked or narrowed arteries in your legs. The procedure can help reduce symptoms of poor blood flow, such as pain, numbness, and wounds that will not heal. The procedure may also prevent the need for an amputation of your leg or foot.

How do I prepare for PVA?

  • Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your procedure. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. Arrange to have someone drive you home when you are discharged.
  • You may need blood tests, angiography, or an electrocardiogram (ECG) before your procedure. Talk to your healthcare provider about these or other tests you may need.
  • Tell your provider about all your current medicines. You may need to stop taking blood thinners several days before your procedure. Ask your healthcare provider if you can continue taking aspirin. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any other medicine for the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.
  • Tell your provider about any allergies you have, including to anesthesia, medicines, or contrast liquid. You may be given an antibiotic to help prevent a bacterial infection. Contrast liquid may be used to help your provider see your artery more clearly on the x-ray.

What will happen during PVA?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during your procedure. You may instead be given IV sedation to make you feel calm and relaxed during the procedure. You may also be given local anesthesia to numb the area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing, but you should not feel any pain.
  • Your healthcare provider will insert a catheter and wire into a blood vessel in your arm, wrist, or groin. He or she will move a wire through the catheter and up into your blocked artery. Your provider may inject contrast liquid. You may feel warm when the contrast liquid is injected. Your provider may use a balloon to help open your artery. He or she may measure oxygen and pressures in different parts of your arteries. A stent may be inserted through the catheter and into your artery. The stent helps hold the artery open so blood can flow through easier.
  • Your provider will remove the catheter and wire. He or she may use clamps, stitches, or other devices to close the incision. Pressure will be applied for several minutes to stop any bleeding.

What should I expect after PVA?

  • You will be attached to a heart monitor until you are fully awake. A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on continuously to record your heart's electrical activity. Healthcare providers will monitor your vital signs and pulses in your arm or leg. They will check your pressure bandage for bleeding or swelling.
  • You will need to lie flat with your leg or arm straight for 2 to 4 hours. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Arm or leg movements can cause serious bleeding. You may be able to go home or you may need to spend a night in the hospital.

What are the risks of PVA?

You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. You may have bruising or pain at the catheter site. You may need surgery to repair damage from the catheter to your blood vessels or to stop heavy bleeding. You may develop a blood clot in your arm or leg. The blood clot may break off and travel to your lungs, heart, or brain. This may cause a heart attack or stroke.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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