Please note, this page is printable by selecting the normal print options on your computer.

This information sheet will explain the examination you are going to have. It is also very important that you follow the instructions from your hospital Consultant

Why do I need an angioplasty?
Your doctor has identified that there is a narrowing or blockage in one of your blood vessels that is causing you a problem. If the arteries in your legs are affected, this may be causing pain in your calf or thigh. This may occur after you have walked a certain distance or may be causing more severe symptoms such as severe pain in your foot, especially at night.

What is an angioplasty?
An angioplasty allows us to treat the narrowing /blockage. After an injection of local anaesthetic, a fine catheter (tube) is fed into the artery usually at the top of the leg. This catheter has a balloon at the tip. Inflating the balloon will open out the blockage and improve the blood supply. The catheter and balloon are then removed. In conjunction with this the Consultant Radiologist ( a Doctor that specialises in x-rays) may decide to place a wire mesh within the artery that acts like a scaffold and holds the walls of the artery apart.

This stays within the artery permanently and is called a vascular stent.

Will I need to stay in hospital?
An angioplasty may be performed as a day case or can involve you staying in hospital overnight, depending on your medical condition and how you recover.

Do I need to do anything before the examination?
It is very important that you do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before your x-ray appointment. However, you must continue to take any essential medication. (You may take your tablets with a small amount of water.). If you are a diabetic you will be advised about your medication by the medical staff.

Please telephone the department on 01908 996934 for advice if you take aspirin or any drug that makes you bleed more easily.

What will happen on admission?
On arrival to the ward you will be admitted by a member of staff who will ask you your understanding of the procedure. Prior to the procedure you will be changed into an examination gown. A member of staff will take your blood pressure and pulse rate. You will be collected by the Imaging Assistant who will bring you to the x-ray department. If you ordinarily take a GTN spray or an inhaler you must bring these with you to the x-ray department.

What will happen in X-Ray and who will be present during the procedure?

When you arrive you will be greeted by the staff working in the department. They will check your details and ask you if you are allergic to anything. You will then be transferred to the x-ray table and attached to a heart monitor. A Consultant Radiologist will carry out the procedure assisted by an Imaging nurse. The radiographers will explain how the machinery works and what is required from you to assist with the procedure.

Will I feel anything during the procedure?
The Radiologist will numb the catheter entry area with some local anaesthetic. You will feel a sharp pain, but only temporarily and a pushing sensation.

What will the Radiologist do next?
The Radiologist will insert a needle and a fine wire into your artery to help place the catheter. When the balloon is in the correct place the Radiologist will inflate the balloon to open out the blockage. This can be painful but should last no longer than a few seconds. Once the Radiologist is satisfied that the blood flow is improved they will remove the catheter and apply pressure to the
groin area to stop the bleeding.

How long does the procedure take?
This varies from patient to patient but usually it takes between 1 and 2 hours.

What happens after the X-Ray?
You will be taken back to your ward. You will need to stay in bed for the next four hours and will not be allowed to eat or drink anything during this time. A member of staff will take your blood pressure and check the puncture site on a regular basis. After four hours you will be allowed to get out of bed and move about gently. You will be discharged when you are medically fit.

What are the possible complications?
Angioplasty is a very safe procedure, but as with any medical procedure there are some risks and complications that can arise. A small bruise (haematoma) around the site of the needle can occur,
but this is quite normal. The bruise might be sore for a few days but will disappear in a few weeks. Rarely a large bruise may develop and require a small operation to drain it. Occasionally, a tender pulsating swelling called a false aneurysm may develop over a few days due to ongoing leakage from the arterial puncture site. This can usually be treated by an injection of a bloodclotting agent under ultrasound guidance. Very rarely, some damage can be caused to the artery by the catheter or by displacement of the material causing a blockage in other arteries (an embolus). This may require a small operation or another procedure. The dye (contrast agent) used during the procedure is very safe, but occasionally can cause damage to the kidneys. This occurs mainly in patients whose kidney function is abnormal already and this will be identified on the blood tests that are performed before the procedure. Allergic reactions to the dye are also possible, but are very rarely serious.

How will I get the results?
The pictures that are taken will be checked by the Consultant Radiologist and the results discussed with your hospital Consultant. Your Consultant will contact you or your G.P with the results as soon as possible.

Any further queries?
Our contact number is 01908 996934 and we are available from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Please do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer any queries you may have.