Arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as a person ages, arteries can become blocked with plaque. This process is called atherosclerosis , or hardening of the arteries. As more plaque builds up, the arteries narrow and stiffen. Eventually, if enough plaque builds up, blood flow to the leg arteries is reduced. When the arteries in the legs become blocked, the legs do not receive enough blood or oxygen.
One treatment for blocked arteries in the legs is angioplasty and stenting. This minimally invasive procedure is similar to stenting for heart disease. A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted through a small puncture site or incision over an artery in the groin. The catheter is guided through the arteries to the blocked area(s). Once in place, a special balloon attached to the catheter is inflated and deflated several times, pushing the plaque against the artery walls and widening the vessel. A tiny metal mesh tube called a stent is then placed in the narrowed artery to keep it open.
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