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Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when plaque (a fatty deposit) builds up on your artery walls causing a restriction in the flow of blood and oxygen to your limbs. The most common area affected is your legs.

Many people with peripheral arterial disease experience no symptoms. But as your veins continue to narrow you may begin to experience aching in your leg muscles brought on by any physical activity such as walking. Other symptoms may include:

  • Numbness in feet and toes
  • Cold, pale lower limbs
  • Hair loss on your legs or slow growing toenails
  • Wounds that are slow to heal on your legs or feet
  • Hair loss on your legs
  • Change in skin colour on your legs and feet

Left untreated peripheral arterial disease could cause permanent damage to your limbs. You should seek medical attention if you experience unexplained leg pain.

If conservative methods to treat your PAD are not successful your consultant may recommend peripheral arterial stenting.

What happens during peripheral arterial stenting?

Peripheral arterial stenting can take from 30 minutes up to several hours depending on the amount of narrowing you have. Your consultant may offer you a sedative to help you relax.

A sheath (a short, soft plastic tube used to access your artery) is usually inserted in your femoral artery near your groin. Local anaesthetic may be used on the insertion area.

Your consultant will pass a catheter along the artery. Using x-ray guidance and contrast dye they will pass a small tube with a tiny inflatable balloon at the end down the catheter and across the narrowed part of the artery. They will then inflate the balloon to widen the artery. They will also expand a stent inside the artery to hold it open. The balloon is then deflated and withdrawn leaving the stent to hold the artery open.

After your procedure you will need to remain in bed for several hours. Our healthcare team will monitor your recovery. Be sure and let us know if you are in any pain.

Going home after peripheral arterial stenting

You may be able to go home the day of your procedure. In some cases an overnight stay may be required. You will not be allowed to drive until your consultant releases you to do so. Please arrange for someone to take you home.

You should avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting until your consultant releases you. Continue taking any high blood pressure or cholesterol medications as prescribed.

Bruising around the insertion area is normal. Contact us if you experience any increase in pain, redness, swelling or discharge from this area.

Be sure and discuss any return to work with your consultant.

As with any procedure there could be complications:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Infection

Specific complications of peripheral arterial stenting may include:

  • Reaction to contrast dye
  • Re-narrowing of your artery

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