Procedures

Angioplasty and stenting

Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides angioplasty and stenting, a minimally invasive, image-guided treatment for narrowing and blockage of arteries and veins throughout the body, in a caring environment using the latest technology.

Angioplasty Stent

Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides angioplasty and stenting, a minimally invasive, image-guided treatment for narrowing and blockage of arteries and veins, on the Mass General main campus in Boston. Performed by specially trained radiologists using real-time image guidance, interventional-radiology procedures such as angioplasty and stenting often require smaller incisions, have fewer risks of complication, and take less recovery time than traditional surgery.

Angioplasty and stenting overview

  • Treats stenosis, or narrowing, of arteries and veins.
  • Used to treat narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the arms and legs (a condition known as PVD, for peripheral vascular disease) and narrowing of the blood vessels in the neck and brain (a condition that increases the risk of stroke).
  • Opens the artery by inflating a small balloon and then uses a tube-shaped device called a stent to keep the artery open.
  • Requires only a small incision in the groin area.
  • Takes approximately 1-2 hours, but requires an overnight stay for observation.
  • As a minimally invasive procedure, involves a smaller incision, fewer risks of complication, and less recovery time than traditional surgery.
  • We pay special attention to minimizing radiation exposure—without giving up image quality.
  • Our state-of-the-art imaging technology plays a key role in planning and performing each procedure, and on-staff physicists and engineers ensure that our machines remain in top condition.

Angioplasty and stenting in depth

What is angioplasty and stenting?

Angioplasty and stenting is an image-guided, non-surgical procedure that is used to restore the free flow of blood to arteries or veins that have become blocked. The procedure involves threading a balloon-tipped catheter through your blood vessels to the point of the blockage, inflating the balloon to expand the blood vessel, and optionally placing a stent that will remain in place to hold the vessel open.

Specialty expertise

The interventional radiologists who perform procedures at Mass General Imaging are specialists in the area of the body and the condition under treatment, as well as the procedure itself. In addition to the training that all radiologists receive, these specialists have additional education, plus extensive real-world experience. In many cases, our doctors helped to pioneer the interventional treatments that we offer.

Coordinated care

Our team of interventional radiologists and nurse practitioners coordinates a patient's complete care—from imaging evaluation to post-procedure followup—maintaining a high level of communication with the patient throughout the process. In addition, Mass General Imaging works in close coordination with experts from across Mass General when necessary.

What should I expect BEFORE angioplasty and stenting?

  • Pre-admission testing: We will schedule an appointment for you. Because your procedure uses contrast dye, we need to know whether you are allergic to any contrast, and a blood test may be required to check this and other elements of your body chemistry.
  • Food and drink: You must not eat solid foods, candy, gum, or drink liquids after midnight on the night before the procedure. Your procedure may be canceled if you do.
  • Medications: It is important to tell us the names of any medications you are taking in advance of your procedure. You may need to stop taking certain medications. In addition, you may be prescribed medication for you to take a few days before the procedure.
  • When to arrive: Two hours prior to the procedure.
  • Preparation: A nurse will insert an intravenous (IV) line to give you sedation medications to make you more comfortable during the procedure. You will also be attached to a cardiac monitor, given a catheter to collect your urine, and connected to a blood pressure monitor. The incision area in the groin will be cleaned and shaved, and you will receive medication to numb the area.

What should I expect DURING angioplasty and stenting?

During the procedure, a specially trained interventional radiologist uses live imaging to thread a plastic tube, called a catheter, through your blood vessels from a small incision in the groin to the location of the narrowing or blockage. The doctor then inflates a small balloon to open the blood vessel, restoring blood flow. In many cases, the doctor then places a tube-shaped device, called a stent, which remains in the body to hold the blood vessel open.

What should I expect AFTER angioplasty and stenting?

You will be admitted to the hospital overnight so that we can monitor your condition. Once you return home, you should take it easy for a few days and avoid any strenuous activity for 10 days. Most people return to a normal level of activity in one to three weeks.

Imaging technology enables non-surgical treatments

Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, explains how the ability to see deep inside the body has driven the development of minimally invasive methods of treatment—a trend in which Mass General Imaging has played a key role.

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Every scan at Mass General Imaging is read by a radiologist with specialty training in the area of the body being studied.