Angioplasty or coronary angioplasty is a procedure to open blocked or narrowed heart arteries caused by deposits of plaque. The procedure is normally done after angiography, which examines the inside of blood vessels to see if it is clogged or narrowed.
The procedure is done by inserting a catheter attached with a balloon through the arteries, and inflating the balloon once or several times to widen the blocked artery. Sometimes a device called stent is placed within the artery to expand the size and to keep the vessel open.
Coronary angioplasty is not a hard and major surgery. The doctor can perform it right after coronary angiography to open blocked heart arteries to prevent heart attack. If angioplasty couldn't resolve the problem of blocked vessel, heart bypass surgery is needed.
The nurse will give medication to help the patient relax. The doctor will then numb the area where the catheter is going to be inserted – which is normally on the groin or arm.
A thin and expandable balloon attached to catheter will be inserted into an artery and passed to the blockage. At the place where plaque is, the balloon will be inflated to push plaque against the wall, widening the passage and letting blood flow through more easily. The inflation process may be performed more than once.
In many cases, the artery might not stay open so a stent will be used to keep the vessel open. The stent is a tiny, expandable mesh tube usually made of metal and is permanent. The doctor will insert the stent by mounting it on a balloon catheter and moving it to the blocked area. As the balloon is inflated, the stent locks in its position and sticks against artery walls to keep the artery open.
In the end, the balloon will be deflated and removed from the body. The doctor will apply direct pressure on the place where the catheter was inserted to prevent bleeding. It might take 15 minutes. A bandage will also cover the incision area to make sure it heals properly.
The patient needs to stay a night in the hospital for observation after the procedure.
During angioplasty (stent insertion), an expandable mesh tube will be inserted to the artery using a catheter and deflated balloon, as the balloon is inflated the stent locks in its position and helps the artery stay open.
Bruising, feeling pain and swelling are common discomforts after angioplasty. However, they should not take long. If you notice any bleeding or increasing pain a few days after the procedure, call your doctor.