Intracranial Balloon Angioplasty and Stenting

Angioplasty is a procedure that opens blocked arteries to restore blood flow in the brain. You may have angioplasty in your brain with or without a stent, a mesh tube that helps reinforce the walls of a blood vessel.

At Radiology Associates of Richmond, Dr. Spinos is currently the only accredited physician who performs Wingspan Stent for brain artery blockages (intracranial stenotic lesions). The Wingspan stent is specially designed for the delicate, tapered and curved vessels of the brain and the treatment is used for patients who have intracranial artery (brain blood vessel) disease that hasn’t responded to traditional therapies such as Plavix and aspirin or other medicines that your physician has prescribed.

What happens during angioplasty and Wingspan Stent?

Before the procedure, you will have met with your neurointerventionalist in an office visit and discussed the procedure and its risks and benefits.

Prior to your procedure, we’ll take you to a preparation area where our nurses will start an IV in your arm and give you any medication that may be required prior to your procedure. We may give you medicines to protect your kidneys, antibiotics to help prevent infection, and anti-nausea medications. You may have a Foley catheter (tube) placed into your bladder.

We’ll take you to a special room similar to an operating room. This procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia.

During the procedure, you’ll lie on your back on a table and we’ll clean the area where the catheter (a thin, hollow tube) will enter your body using a special solution to minimize infection. We’ll place sterile drapes over your body and apply a local anesthetic so you don’t feel any pain.

Dr. Spinos will make a small incision in your groin to insert special catheters and a thin guide wire with a deflated microballoon through the artery to the area that is blocked. The soft wire is used to go across the blockage. Once the balloon reaches the blockage, Dr. Spinos will inflate it to open the artery and restore normal blood flow. At this point, we may implant the Wingspan Stent, if needed.

At the end of the procedure, Dr. Spinos will withdraw the catheter and typically place a special device in the blood vessel to stop the blood from leaking out. Finally, we’ll put a bandage over the incision. 

After your procedure, you will be maintained on special medications. Dr. Spinos will review the results of your stent placement with your physician so he or she can discuss the next steps with you.