Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA) and Stenting
For PVS Patients
There are two types of blood vessels in the body – arteries and veins. Arteries carry
blood rich in oxygen from the heart to all the organs of the body. Veins carry blood back
to the heart. The aorta is the largest artery in the body. It is also the most important
blood vessel. If there is a problem with your aorta or arteries, the blood flow to the rest
of your body is decreased.
With arterial disease, the walls of the arteries are narrowed because of plaque build-up
and can form a blockage. This occurs slowly over time and is called atherosclerosis. The
plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol and calcium deposits. It can result in less blood
flow to your legs and other organs like the kidneys, intestines, and the brain.
Risk Factors for Atherosclerosis
ξ High blood pressure
ξ High cholesterol
ξ Lack of exercise
ξ Family history
ξ Irregular heartbeat, especially atrial fibrillation (a heart condition where the heart
chambers quiver and beat ineffectively)
ξ Gender (males and post-menopausal women)
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
ξ Leg pain that is relieved with rest
ξ Pain at rest, if blockage is severe
ξ Discolored skin
ξ Legs are cool to touch
ξ Loss of hair on toes, feet and legs
ξ Thick toenails
ξ Numbness and tingling
ξ Male impotence
The leg pain is caused by the increased need for oxygen to your leg muscles during
exercise. If the arteries are narrow or blocked, you will not get enough blood flow and
oxygen to the muscles. This causes the pain. If the artery supplies other body organs,
you may have other symptoms. If the kidney arteries are blocked, you may have high
blood pressure or kidney failure. If the blood vessels are blocked to the intestine, you
may have abdominal pain after eating.
Mild artery disease can be treated with:
ξ Starting an exercise program
ξ Improve those risk factors above that can be controlled
ξ Angioplasty (PTA) or stenting
For severe artery disease, you may need arterial bypass surgery. A vein from your leg or
arm is used to bypass the blockage. It is called a bypass because the graft will send blood
around the blockage. A fabric graft will be used if one of your own veins can’t be used.
Angiogram is a procedure in which a series of x-ray pictures are taken using contrast
(x-ray dye). Your doctor can see the outline of your blood vessels with this test and
decide the best treatment option for you.
Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA) is a series of x-ray pictures taken using
contrast. Using a balloon, arteries or veins that have been narrowed or blocked are
opened. A special catheter with a balloon on the tip will inflate and deflate to open the
blocked blood vessel. Before the PTA, a magnetic resonance arteriogram (MRA) or
computerized tomography angiogram (CTA) may be done to help the doctors see the
arteries in your body.
Why Do I Need a PTA?
ξ MRA, Computerized Tomography (CT) or Ultrasound shows that a blood vessel
is narrowed or blocked.
ξ PTA is the best method to open the vessel for patients who should not have
ξ It is often the preferred method to open blocked vessels that are easy to reach.
Stent is an artificial device placed in the artery to help keep the artery open.
During the PTA Procedure
This procedure is done in the Heart and Vascular Care Procedure Center. Before starting,
our doctor will talk with you about what to expect and ask you for your consent to do it.
Be sure to tell the doctor if you have any allergies to contrast dyes, antibiotics,
anesthetic agents, latex, or any medicines that you may have taken before.
It often takes several hours, sometimes longer. An IV (intravenous) will be started to
give you fluids. Medicine to relax you may also be given.
During the PTA, the nurse will check your vital signs. After the doctor or tech finds your
femoral/radial artery and marks it, that area will be shaved and cleaned. You will then be
covered with sterile drapes to help prevent infection. The doctors will wear sterile gowns
and masks to provide a clean environment.
The skin at the entry site will be numbed with Lidocaine so you will have little pain.
Most patients do not feel a lot of pain, but you may feel pressure during the catheter
placement. Using x-ray guidance, a small tube (catheter) is placed into the artery. The
doctor will advance the tube into the area that needs to be studied.
The tube will be hooked up to an injector at which time the “contrast” or dye is injected
into the artery. The contrast highlights the vessels. During this process you may feel
warmth or heat. This is normal and is often felt in the abdomen and buttocks. You will
be asked to hold your breath so you do not move while the films are being taken. Several
injections or “runs” are done.
After finding the place and size of the blockage, the angioplasty will begin. The tube is
threaded up until it reaches the blocked area. At the end of the tube is a balloon. The
balloon is inflated for 15-60 seconds and then deflated. This process may be done several
times. You may feel pressure at the site where the inflation occurs. Some patients have
some pain as the balloon is being inflated. If this happens, you can be given IV pain
medicine. Peripheral pulses often improve right away, the lower leg or arm color
improves, and you may have less pain.
How the PTA will be done
PTA with Stenting
You may have a stent placed during your PTA. This is a small metal coil that helps keep
the narrowed artery open. The stent is attached to the catheter and expanded with a
balloon. (See picture below).
After your Procedure
1. You will need to lie flat with your leg or arm straight for 6 or more hours after your
sheath (a large IV in your groin or elbow) is removed.
2. Vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature will be taken often.
Circulation checks of your leg or arm will be also done.
3. The groin or elbow site will be checked for bleeding.
4. You may eat and drink after the sheath is removed.
5. You may start taking most of the medicines you took before the procedure. Your
blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix, aspirin) may be changed. A doctor, nurse, or
pharmacist will talk with you about this.
6. You may have a Foley catheter in place while you are lying flat. A Foley is a tube
used to empty your bladder.
7. You will have an IV in to make sure you have enough fluids.
Before You Go Home
ξ You will learn how to apply direct pressure to the site in case it bleeds.
ξ Talk with your doctor about when you can return to work or normal routines.
ξ Talk with your doctor about when you can resume driving.
ξ If bleeding occurs at the site, apply direct
pressure. Call 911 and go to the nearest
ξ If you feel extreme dizziness, faint or light-
headed, this may be due to low blood pressure.
You may be bleeding internally. If you feel this
way, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency
1. Leave the Tegaderm dressing on during your first shower after PTA. After your
shower, remove the dressing and leave the site open to the air. If you notice drainage,
place a band-aid over the site. Do not take a tub bath for the first 24 hours.
2. Drink at least 10-20 (8 oz.) glasses of fluid (water, coffee, juice, tea, etc) for the first
24 hours. Do not drink alcohol the first day.
3. Keep your leg or arm (with the puncture site) straight when sitting or lying down for
the first 24 hours.
4. No heavy lifting (more than 10 pounds) for 1 week.
5. Puncture Site - once a day for five (5) days, look at puncture site on your leg or arm
for signs of infection. Call your doctor if you notice:
ξ Redness or warmth at the site
ξ Foul-smelling, yellowish or greenish drainage from puncture site
ξ Increased swelling at puncture site
ξ Temperature (by mouth) above 101.5 θF or 38.5 θC
You should feel only a little pain after you are home. For relief, take acetaminophen
(such as Tylenol ).
When to Call Your Doctor
ξ Signs of infection
ξ Large firm area under and around the puncture site
ξ Severe pain or spasms in the leg or arm
ξ Numbness and/or tingling in foot, leg, arm or hand
ξ Loss of motion in foot, leg, arm or hand
ξ Itching or hives anywhere on your body
If you have any questions or problems once you are at home, call the PVS Clinic, at
(608) 263-8915, during the day (8:00 am to 5:00 pm).
Nights, weekends and holidays, call (608) 262-0486. Ask the paging operator for the
PVS resident on call. Give the operator your name and phone number with the area code.
The doctor will call you back.
If you are calling from out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
Fahey, Victoria Vascular Nursing 4th Edition
Carlson, Karen; Lynn-McHale, Debra J. AACN Procedure Manual for Critical Care 4th Edition
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©
10/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the
Department of Nursing HF#7570.