Angioplasty procedure uses a balloon or a stent to open narrowed arteries of the heart. A stent is a small, metallic, mesh-like device that acts as a support inside the vessel to keep them inflated. The conventionally accepted procedure involves placing the catheter in the femoral artery and threading it up and into the heart. This method, however, is associated with many problems including bleeding at the puncture site and nerve damage.
The current approach involves the use of the radial artery in the wrist. A suitable candidate for radial angioplasty must have a good blood supply in both hands through radial and ulnar arteries. This is essential so that in the case of temporary blockage of the radial artery after the procedure, the blood supply to the hand can be maintained by the ulnar artery. Patients with thin twisted arteries are not considered suitable for the procedure. Angioplasty is performed under local or general anesthetic depending on the condition of the patient. Electrodes are placed on your chest and they are connected to an electrocardiogram which monitors your heart rhythm during the procedure. The cardiologist threads a thin tube-like catheter through the network of arteries in the arm and chest to reach the heart.
Angioplasty performed via the radial artery causes minimal discomfort to the patient. The risks associated with bleeding at the puncture site are low and can be immediately relieved by applying pressure to the site. In most instances, the patient can move around within a few hours of the surgery.
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