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Iliac Stent for Leg Artery Disease

One treatment for leg artery disease is angioplasty and stenting. A long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a small puncture over an artery in the groin. The catheter is guided through the arteries to the blocked area. Once in place, a special balloon that is attached to the catheter is inflated and deflated several times, pushing the plaque against the artery walls and widening the vessel. A tiny mesh-metal tube called a stent is then placed into the narrowed area of the artery to keep it open. The stent remains in the artery permanently.

What is Leg Artery Disease

The aorta is the largest artery in the body, and it carries blood away from the heart. Just beneath the navel in the abdomen, the aorta splits into the two iliac arteries, which carry blood into each leg. When the iliac arteries reach the groin, they split again to become the femoral arteries.

Arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside, but as a person ages, these arteries can become blocked with plaque through a process 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 and develop a condition called claudication (leg artery disease).

What to Expect

After this procedure, blood flows more freely through the artery. Considered a type of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), leg artery disease can cause discomfort or pain when walking. Left untreated, this disease carries a risk for limb amputation, heart attack and stroke.

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