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What is coronary angioplasty?

Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure done to widen narrowed and clogged blood vessels that causes reduced blood flow into the heart. The procedure is usually suggested to patients who have developed atherosclerosis – the accumulation of plaque on the walls of the coronary arteries, which narrows the arteries and causes restricted blood flow into the heart.

The procedure utilizes a tiny balloon to compress the blockage and widen the artery and is commonly known as

Percutaneous coronary intervention (or PCI),

Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (or PCTA),

Coronary artery angioplasty or

Balloon angioplasty.

How is coronary angioplasty done?

A tube is inserted into an artery in the groin or the elbow through which a guide catheter is threaded towards the heart.

A contrast dye is injected through the catheter which reveals the areas of blockage through X-ray images.

A small catheter with a tiny balloon at its tip is inserted through the guide catheter and threaded to the narrowed artery where it is inflated up for several minutes to stretch the artery and decrease the blockage, and then deflated soon after. The procedure is repeated to widen the artery bit by bit, depending upon the size and number of blockages present.

A medicated stent that acts as scaffolding can also be placed in the artery during the process to prevent future clogging of the blood vessel.

The balloon catheters are removed and X-rays are taken to view the blood flow. Finally the guide catheter is removed, ending the procedure.

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