Angioplasty can be performed in many arteries of the body. The treatment often occurs in the area of the leg arteries. Vessels in the shoulders, kidneys, intestines, pelvis or neck can also be treated in a similar way. The catheter examination procedure is similar for all affected vessels.
At the beginning of the catheter examination, we numb the puncture site with a local anesthetic. We then insert a so-called sheath, which works like a valve: We can use it to insert metal wires and catheters (= special thin tubes through which a contrast agent can be injected) into the artery without any bleeding from the puncture site. We can now visualize the vasoconstriction directly by injecting contrast medium using X-rays. In contrast to computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the vascular constriction can not only be detected, but also treated immediately during the catheter examination. To do this, we insert a small folded balloon into the constricted artery via the puncture site. We treat the narrowing by inflating the balloon using a high-pressure syringe: The inflated balloon pushes the vascular calcifications deeper into the arterial wall; the constriction is thus eliminated and the blood supply to the vessel is improved. This treatment is called balloon dilatation. To ensure the long-term success of this treatment, it may be necessary to insert a stent into the treated artery. This stent keeps the vessel open. In the following months, a vascular endothelium grows over this stent and protects it from deposits. Once the catheter examination is complete, we remove the sheath, manually press the puncture site for 15 minutes and then apply a pressure bandage. This is necessary so that the puncture site can close securely and there is no post-operative bleeding. As a rule, you will have to lie on your back for six hours after the procedure. If the puncture site is closed after this time, you can ideally go home on the same day. Sometimes it is necessary for you to stay in our clinic overnight for monitoring to ensure a high level of safety. Discharge from hospital is then only possible the following morning.