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At the University of Miami Health System, our expert vascular surgeons use angioplasty to open up narrowed or blocked blood vessels throughout your body. This minimally invasive procedure has a fast recovery time and fewer risks than other types of surgery. It can be used to open up arteries before you have a heart attack or to save your life during a heart attack.


Your vascular surgeon may recommend angioplasty if you have a condition such as:

  • Atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in blood vessels)
  • Heart disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Narrowed blood vessels in other areas of the body

Angioplasty is considered safe for almost everyone.

What to Expect

You will be asleep under general anesthesia during your angioplasty procedure. You should avoid eating or drinking for several hours before your procedure. Tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking so they can instruct you on what medicines to take with a sip of water before your procedure.

Because of the anesthesia, you will need someone to drive you home from your procedure.

You will receive anesthesia through an IV in your hand. Once you are asleep, your surgeon will make a small incision in your groin, wrist, neck or other area of your body depending on where your narrowed or blocked artery is located. They will then guide a catheter (thin tube) through the incision and into the affected blood vessel using X-ray guidance.

When the catheter is in place, your doctor will inflate a balloon on the tip of the catheter to open up and widen the blood vessel. They may place a stent (a mesh tube) into the blood vessel to hold it open.

Once the stent is in place, they will remove the catheter and close your incision. You will wake up and spend several hours lying with your legs straight. Depending on the reason for your angioplasty, you may spend the night at the hospital or return home the same day. Your doctor will let you know when you can return to normal activities based on where your incision was located.

Balloon angioplasty

Balloon angioplasty is used to treat atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. These conditions cause your arteries to become blocked and decrease blood flow to the body, which can lead to stroke and other serious complications. 


Though commonly performed to open narrowed blood vessels around the heart and in the aorta (major blood vessel of the heart), balloon angioplasty can be used to open up blocked arteries throughout the body, including in the:

  • Femoral (thigh) artery
  • Iliac (hip) artery
  • Popliteal (behind the knee) artery
  • Tibial and peroneal (lower leg) arteries 

What to Expect

Before undergoing a balloon angioplasty, your vascular surgeon will likely order one or more imaging tests – such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), computerized tomography angiography (CTA), or carotid angiography – so he or she can obtain a clear image of the blockage. Your surgeon will also provide you with instructions on whether you can eat or drink prior to the procedure, and if you need to make any adjustments to your regular medication schedule

You will be under general anesthesia (fully asleep) for your angioplasty. Once you are asleep, your surgeon begins by making a small incision in the groin area. Using X-ray guidance, the surgeon threads a catheter (thin, narrow tube) with a balloon tip through the blood vessels and to the blocked area of the artery. The surgeon will inject contrast dye through the catheter, which helps him or her obtain a detailed view of the narrowed or blocked artery. The surgeon then inflates the tiny balloon at the end of the catheter to open up the artery. A small metal or mesh tube (stent) may be placed in the artery to keep it open. The catheter and balloon are removed out of the original incision, and the wound is closed.

Most people need to stay overnight one night in the hospital after a balloon angioplasty. You should make arrangements for a responsible adult to drive you home the following day, due to the possible lingering effects of the anesthesia and sedative.

Why Choose UHealth?

Leading-edge imaging care in South Florida. Our doctors are also researchers discovering new ways to improve diagnosis and treatment. That means you can get some of today’s most promising advancements through clinical trials. You benefit from the latest developments that are fast-tracked from the lab to the bedside.

Advanced, hard-to-find procedures. Our doctors are committed to caring for every patient. That’s why they offer the latest treatments, including limb salvage, endovascular grafting and thoracic outlet decompression, to improve your blood flow. 

All the care you need, from one physician. Our vascular surgeons perform a wide range of procedures so you can have the same physician for any vascular care you need as your condition changes. Whether you need a stent replaced or a vein grafted, you can always turn to the doctor you trust.

Experienced doctors, reliable results. UHealth vascular surgeons perform hundreds of stent placements, angiograms and more every year. You can rely on their experience to help you avoid complications and have a positive outcome. 

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