Coronary artery angioplasty

coronary artery angioplasty

Coronary artery angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a medical procedure used to open narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart. This procedure is often performed to treat coronary artery disease (CAD) and improve blood flow to the heart muscle.

Here is a general overview of how the procedure is typically carried out:

  1. Preparation: The patient is prepared for the procedure by administering local anesthesia and possibly sedation to help relax and manage any discomfort or anxiety.
  2. Insertion of Catheter: A catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is inserted into a blood vessel, usually in the groin or wrist, and threaded through the blood vessels up to the heart.
  3. Guiding Catheter Placement: The catheter is advanced into the coronary arteries, guided by X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy), until it reaches the blocked or narrowed area.
  4. Angiography: A special dye (contrast material) is injected through the catheter, allowing the physician to visualize the coronary arteries on X-ray. This helps identify the location and severity of the blockages.
  5. Balloon Inflation: A smaller balloon catheter is then advanced to the narrowed area and inflated. The inflation of the balloon compresses the plaque against the arterial walls, widening the artery and restoring blood flow.
  6. Stent Placement (if needed): In many cases, a stent—a small, mesh-like metal tube—is placed at the site of the blockage to help keep the artery open after the balloon is deflated and removed. The stent remains in the artery permanently.
  7. Balloon Deflation and Catheter Removal: The balloon is deflated and removed, and the catheter is withdrawn.
  8. Final Angiography: Another round of X-ray imaging (angiography) may be done to confirm that the artery is open and blood flow is improved.
  9. Closure of the Access Site: The access site (where the catheter was inserted) is closed using pressure, a closure device, or sometimes with a few sutures.
  10. Recovery and Monitoring: After the procedure, the patient is taken to a recovery area where vital signs and the access site are monitored. Most patients are able to return to their regular activities within a day or two.

Coronary artery angioplasty and stent placement can alleviate chest pain (angina) and improve blood flow to the heart, helping reduce the risk of a heart attack. It’s important to follow post-procedure instructions, including medications and lifestyle changes, as advised by your healthcare team. As with any medical procedure, risks and benefits should be discussed with your cardiologist.