Angioplasty is a nonsurgical procedure that opens blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. Dr. Patel, what can you tell us about this procedure?
Well, Dr. Phillips, another name for angioplasty is percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI. Patients are generally awake during the procedure, but they may be given medications for pain and to help them relax. They may also be given blood-thinning medication to prevent a blood clot from forming.
During the procedure, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or groin. Live x-ray pictures are used to help the provider thread the catheter through the blood vessel into the narrowed or blocked coronary artery.
A balloon or other device on the end of the catheter is inflated to compress the plaque against the wall of the artery. This restores blood flow through the artery.
A small mesh tube called a stent may be placed in the artery during angioplasty. The stent expands when the balloon is inflated, and is left inside the artery to help prevent future blockages.