Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting
What is it?
Angioplasty is a catheter-based procedure performed by an interventional cardiologist in order to open up a blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart muscle. Angioplasty is used as an alternative treatment to coronary artery bypass surgery if there is one or more blocked, yet accessible, arteries. It is less invasive, less expensive, and faster to perform, with the patient usually returning home the next day. In most cases, following balloon angioplasty, a stent will also be placed to keep the artery open.
How does it work?
Interventional cardiologists perform angioplasty, which opens narrowed arteries. They use a long, thin tube called a catheter that has a small balloon on its tip. They inflate the balloon at the blockage site in the artery to flatten or compress the plaque against the artery wall. Angioplasty is also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).
Stent procedures are usually used along with balloon angioplasty. A stent is a small, mesh-like device made of metal. When a stent is placed inside of a coronary artery, it acts as a support or scaffold, keeping the vessel open. By keeping the vessel open, the stent helps to improve blood flow to the heart muscle and reduce the pain of angina.
Reasons for Angioplasty and Stenting
A balloon angioplasty or stent procedures are performed in patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
What to expect
Balloon angioplasty or stent procedures are performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. The procedure usually takes about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, and most patients will spend the night in the hospital. It is normal to feel a little sleepy until the sedative has worn off and recommended to drink fluids to flush the dye out of the system. The puncture site may also be tender and bruised.
Restenosis may occur in the first six months following the surgery which is when more blockages appear in the treated area and arteries that have stents can re-close. If restenosis occurs, additional balloon angioplasty or stent procedures may need to be performed.