In many cases, interventional radiologists can open blocked or narrowed blood vessels caused by peripheral arterial disease or other conditions. For example, in some patients, high blood pressure is caused by blockage to the artery to the kidney, a condition known as renovascular hypertension. Interventional radiologists can often treat blocked blood vessels without surgery. In most cases, hospitalization and general anesthesia are not required. There is no surgical incision – just a small nick in the skin – and no stitches are needed. Often, patients may return to normal activity shortly after the procedure.
In this technique, the interventional radiologist inserts a very small balloon attached to a thin tube (catheter) into a blood vessel through a small nick in the skin. The catheter is threaded under X-ray guidance to the site of the blocked artery. The balloon is inflated to open the artery.
Sometimes, a small metal scaffold/tube called a stent is inserted to hold the blood vessel open. Other new technologies such as cryoplasty and atherectomy are also available by Sinai and Northwest Hospital interventional radiologists.
This treatment is used if the blockage in an artery is caused by a blood clot. Thrombolytic drugs that dissolve clots are injected through a catheter to eliminate the clot and restore blood flow.
Reprinted with permission of the Society of Interventional Radiology © 2004, www.SIRweb.org. All rights reserved.