Patient's Guide to Understanding Minimally-Invasive Vascular Procedures
Surgical procedures can be confusing and include medical terms that are difficult for patients to understand. Without an explanation, you may feel overwhelmed or even anxious about an impending operation. Here we have listed common minimally-invasive vascular surgeries and explained each to help patients better understand upcoming procedures.
What are Minimally-Invasive Vascular Procedures?
Medical procedures have come a long way in terms of surgery and procedures. Having intensive, open surgery can be extremely traumatic to patients and result in long recovery time. Luckily there are options for minimally-invasive vascular surgeries that can reduce stress and trauma. Here are some options your doctor may recommend.
Angiogram procedure is done to take a picture inside your arteries. A dye is injected into the arteries, and an X-Ray machine looks at the blood flow through these arteries. Using the dye, doctors can then study how efficiently your blood flows through your body.
Doctors can use this to examine almost any artery in the body without making any incisions and easily look for any blocks, blood flow, enlargements, or abnormalities.
Angioplasty is another minimally-invasive vascular procedure that restores blood flow in an artery. Arteries become blocked or restricted by plaque due to coronary or peripheral arterial disease. Rather than having open surgery, doctors use a guidewire to thread through an artery in the groin or arm. This tube reaches all the way to the blocked artery in your heart and widens the artery using an inflated balloon.
An arterial stent is placed inside the artery often after an angioplasty procedure. The stent is a mesh tube made out of metal that expands in the artery. The arterial stent allows the artery to stay open and refrain from closing up again after the angioplasty procedure. Some stents also have medicine inside to further prevent the artery from closing.
A venogram procedure is a minimally-invasive vascular intervention that allows doctors to view the blood activity in your legs' veins. Just like an angiography, a dye is injected into your veins and used to view the blood activity on an X-Ray machine. Venograms allow doctors to easily diagnose DVT or deep vein thrombosis.
Venoplasty Procedure is a minimally-invasive vascular intervention similar to angioplasty. This procedure targets veins in the lower limbs. Inserted into your vein is a small tube with a balloon attached. The balloon inflates to widen the vein. The procedure will allow blood to once again flow efficiently through the once blocked vein.
After or during a venoplasty procedure, your doctor may insert a venous stent. The stent is a metal mesh tube that holds the vein open and prevents it from collapsing again. Having this kind of stent can help strengthen the veins and prevent or delay another surgical procedure in the future.
During a carotid angiography, the doctor will place a small tube into the carotid artery. This tube has a balloon attached that inflates to open the carotid artery. A stent may be inserted into the artery to keep the artery open and allow blood to flow through. The carotid artery is located on the side of the neck.
Benefits of Minimally-Invasive Vascular Surgery
Performing minimally-invasive vascular surgery has many benefits over open surgery. Here are some reasons why doctors and hospitals have opted to use these procedures.
Smaller Incisions and Less Blood Loss
These days, doctors are able to perform procedures without making large incisions. Instead, a few small incisions, or even just one small incision, can be enough to efficiently perform most surgeries. Smaller cuts mean less blood loss, which can prevent extra trauma to the body.
Less Pain and No Hospital stay
Because these incisions are smaller, you will feel less pain during your recovery and heal quicker. Quicker recovery means you will spend less time in the cath lab, which can save money and prevent further stress.
Minimal Scarring and Lower Rate of Complications
Small incisions mean less scar tissue. Sometimes your body can heal these small incisions without any scarring at all. With this advanced technology, the complication rate lowers dramatically, and these minimally-invasive procedures are much safer to perform.
Lower level of Anesthesia
Patients receive minimal Anesthesia delivery under constant monitoring
High Success Rate
There is a high success rate of endovascular procedures with significant relief of symptoms.
Risks of Minimally-Invasive Vascular Procedures
Although these minimally-invasive procedures reduce the chance of complications, there are always risks to consider. There is a risk of infection any time incisions or injections are involved in a procedure.
Every procedure entails a certain level of risk. The advent of new technology and experience of vascular doctors help minimize risk. Here is a list of possible risk factors that may arise.
Any procedure that involves placement of a catheter inside a blood vessel carries certain risks. These risks include damage to the blood vessel, bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, and infection. The chance of any of these events occurring is less than one percent.
Allergy to X-ray Contrast Material
Patients may have an allergic reaction to the x-ray contrast material used during endovascular procedures. THese episodes range from mild itching to severe reactions that can affect breathing or blood pressure. Patients having procedures are carefully monitored by a physician and a nurse during the procedure.
Endovascular procedures are done under an x-ray. Exposure levels usually are well below those where adverse effects on the patient or future children would be a concern.
Potential Adverse Effects on the Kidneys
Patients with a history of poor kidney functions are at higher risk of further damage. Blood work will be drawn to help identify patients at risk and levels will be monitored accordingly. IV fluids will also be given during and after the procedure to dilute the dye and filter the dye through the kidneys. In very rare cases additional medication may need to be given.
How Have the Procedures Progressed in the Last Two Decades?
Medical procedures have changed dramatically over the years. In the past, open-heart surgery was typically the go-to option for even small arterial blockages. With the advancement in technology, doctors can now perform these procedures with small incisions that greatly reduce risk and trauma to the patient.
Instead of opening the entire area to see and address the problem, doctors now use a small camera called an endoscope to visualize what they see inside the body. This is now the standard of care in most hospitals.
Robotic surgery is beginning to make its way into many hospitals. A surgeon is still on hand, guiding the robotic arm during surgery. This allows doctors to perform procedures without human error, such as shaking hands. It is expected that robotic surgery will continue to rise and will be the next standard seen across hospitals.
Any kind of medical procedure can be stressful for patients. Finding the best possible way to perform these procedures and minimize patient trauma is most doctors' goal. Luckily technology has advanced in a way that allows this possibility to be a reality and provides many options for minimally-invasive vascular procedures. Technology will continue to improve, and these procedures will continue to become more effective and less invasive.
Video of minimally-invasive procedures explained by Dr. Lakhanpal, Medical Director for CVM.