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Alternative namesBalloon angioplasty; Coronary angioplasty; Coronary artery angioplasty; Cardiac angioplasty; PTCA; Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty; Heart artery dilatation
DefinitionAngioplasty is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart (coronary arteries). It is not considered to be a type of surgery. See also cardiac catheterization and angiogram .
Fat and cholesterol can accumulate on the inside of arteries and form deposits called plaque. This disease process is called atherosclerosis . The arteries that supply blood to the heart itself (called the coronary arteries) can be narrowed or blocked by this accumulation.
If the blockage is not too severe, a balloon catheter may be used to open the heart artery as an alternative to open heart surgery. The catheter is a small, hollow, flexible tube that has a balloon near the end of it.
The procedure starts with the patient lying on a padded table. Local pain medicine is given, and the catheters are then inserted in an artery (usually near the groin). The patient is awake for the procedure, but pain medicine can be given as needed.
The heart and heart arteries are then visualized by using X-rays and dye, and blockages in the heart vessels are identified. A balloon catheter is then inserted in or near the blockage and inflated, thus widening or opening the blocked vessel and restoring adequate blood flow to the heart muscle.
Occassionally, blood thinning medicines are also given to prevent formation of a blood clot. In almost all cases, a device called a stent is also placed at the site of narrowing or blockage in order to keep the artery open. A common type of stent is made of self-expanding, stainless steel mesh.
Angioplasty may be performed to treat:
The risks for any anesthesia are:
The risks for any surgery are:
Additional risks include:
Expectations after surgery
This procedure greatly improves blood flow through the coronary arteries and to the heart tissue in about 90% of patients and may eliminate the need for coronary artery bypass surgery ( CABG ).
The result is relief from chest pain , and improved exercise capacity. In 2 out of 3 cases, the procedure is considered successful with complete elimination of the narrowing or blockage.
Patients should diet, exercise, abstain from smoking, and reduce stress in order to lower the chances of recurrence. The physician may prescribe a medication, such as statin, to help lower the patient's cholesterol.
ConvalescenceThe average hospital stay is less than 2 days, and often, an overnight hospital stay is not required at all. Patients are generally able to walk within 6 hours after the procedure. Complete recovery takes a week or less.
Update Date: 7/18/2002Steven Kang, M.D., Division of Cardiology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT