Special balloon-tipped catheters – thin tubes that come in a wide range of sizes – can be used to try to enlarge narrowed blood vessels, both arteries and veins. This procedure is called angioplasty. During angioplasty, the catheter is inserted through a small puncture site in the skin and fed through the artery or vein to the location where treatment will be delivered.
Sometimes a metal cage (stent) is left in place to prop open the sides of the blood vessel. A stent is delivered to the appropriate place using a similar balloon-tipped catheter as is used in angioplasty.
Angioplasty can be repeated as the child grows, if necessary. Stents can usually later be further enlarged to some extent as well.