Angioplasty is the process of opening narrowed or blocked coronary arteries so that blood flow to the heart can be restored. The procedure is sometimes combined with stenting, in which a stent—a small metal mesh tube—is put in place to ensure that the artery stays open.
Why is angioplasty performed?
(Source: National Institutes of Health)
What happens in an angioplasty procedure?
Angioplasty is performed in a special operating room called a cardiac catheterization laboratory ("cath lab").
- First you are given some medication to help you relax; then your doctor numbs the site where the catheter will be inserted (either in the arm or in the groin) with a local anesthetic.
- The doctor uses a needle to make a small hole in your arm or groin and inserts a tapered tube called a sheath into the hole.
- A catheter with a balloon in its tip is inserted through the sheath and guided by an imaging method called fluoroscopy to the blocked artery, with the tip at the site of the blockage.
- The balloon is expanded, pushing the plaque against the artery wall to relieve the blockage.
- When the procedure is complete, your doctor removes the catheter and the sheath and closes the opening in your blood vessel.
What can I expect after angioplasty?
After the procedure, you will stay in a special care unit for a few hours or overnight. You will need to stay still for a few hours to allow the hole in your arm or groin to seal. Your care team will check your blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs regularly.
Before you leave the hospital, your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow during your recovery at home, including how much activity you can do, when and how to take your medications, and which warning signs to watch out for. Be sure to follow his or her instructions closely, and feel free to call the office if you have any questions.
Learn about other catheter-based procedures:
- Transradial Catheterization
- Radiofrequency Ablation
- Percutaneous Septal Defect Closure
- Balloon Valvuloplasty
- Alcohol Septal Ablation
For more information about Methodist DeBakey Cardiology Associates or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-441-1100 or 888-361-4375, or contact us online.