To open a narrowed artery, a catheter with a very small balloon on its tip is placed in the artery and is advanced to reach the narrowed or blocked artery. The doctor then inflates the balloon, pushing aside the plaque that has built up against the vessel walls. The doctor then inflates and deflates the balloon several times to open the vessel.
An amputation is a procedure where a physician removes a limb, or part of a limb, that is causing great pain or is threatening a patient's health because of extensive infection. Most commonly, a toe, foot, leg, or arm is amputated. PAD is the leading cause of amputation in people age 50 and older.
Atherectomy is a minimally-invasive method of removing plaque to re-open arteries. Unlike angioplasty and stenting which are designed to squish plaque to the side, atherectomy involves cutting and removing the plaque from the artery, restoring normal blood flow.
Surgical bypass treats narrowed arteries by directly creating a detour, or bypass, around a section of the artery that is blocked. During a bypass procedure, a physician creates a new pathway for blood flow using a graft. A graft can be a portion of a vein or a synthetic tube that connects above and below a blockage to allow blood to flow around it.
A stent is a small, metal scaffold that is placed inside an artery. Similar to balloon angioplasty, stents restore blood flow by pushing the plaque to the side but remain inside the artery forever. Stenting often follows balloon angioplasty as an additional treatment to help the vessel remain open.