Angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), restores blood flow to the heart by opening narrowed or blocked coronary arteries without open surgery. This procedure is used to treat the results of coronary artery disease (CAD) and is sometimes combined with stenting in which a small metal mesh tube is placed to ensure the artery stays open.

Two common types of angioplasty are:
  • Coronary angioplasty is a common procedure used to dissolve blockage in the main artery leading to the heart and improve symptoms of coronary artery disease (CAD) with the harmless technique of inserting a small "balloon." 
  • Peripheral angioplasty, which also utilizes a small "balloon," is performed to treat blocked and narrowed peripheral arteries, as well as peripheral vascular disease (PVD).

Angioplasty Procedure
Angioplasty is performed in a special operating room called a cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab).

In addition to relaxing sedatives, patients receive a local anesthetic to numb the catheter insertion site. The doctor uses a needle to make a small incision in the 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 and relieving the blockage.

When the procedure is complete, the doctor removes the catheter and sheath and closes the opening in the blood vessel. The patient is then moved to a special care unit, where he or she will recover anywhere from a few hours to overnight. During recovery, the care team monitors the patient's vital signs and ensures the catheter insertion site closes properly.

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