CardioSpecialists Group, Ltd.
About Your Balloon Angioplasty

Also called: Coronary Angioplasty, Cerebral Angioplasty, Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty, Angioplasty, Peripheral Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty, Balloon Dilation

What Is a Balloon Angioplasty?

A Balloon Angioplasty is not a test, it is a procedure. Angioplasty is a procedure to widen clogged arteries to increase blood flow in arteries that have become clogged due to fatty and plaque deposits.

 

Pictured above are a variety of arterial stents, which are used in most balloon angioplasty procedures.

In a balloon angioplasty, a catheter (a flexible tube) is inserted into one or more coronary arteries (the arteries that surround the heart). The catheter is tipped with a balloon (hence the term balloon angioplasty). Once inserted into an artery, the physician inflates the balloon in order to widen and open the blood vessel.

The procedure improves blood flow by:

-Pushing plaque and fatty deposits against the arterial walls, thereby increasing the effective diameter of the artery.
-Causing small fissures and cracks in the deposits on the arteries.
-Stretching the artery to a larger diameter.

Ideally, the procedure will result in increased blood flow, and will reduce chest pain associated with coronary heart disease.

Stenting and Balloon Angioplasty

Most angioplasties will also include the insertion of a "stent" into the artery. A stent is a mesh tube that is inserted into the artery and keeps the artery open, so blood flows more freely.

Stenting technology has improved in recent years, which has increased the success rate of angioplasty procedures.

How Is the Procedure Performed?

The procedure takes place in a cool and sterile catheter lab. There will be numerous monitoring machines, LCD displays, and x-ray cameras. Remember, you may undergo some testing before the procedure. You will have ample time to consult with your physician in the period leading up to the procedure. Feel free to ask any questions.

You will be sedated with an intravenous (IV) line into your arm. The sedative will calm you during the procedure. Monitoring electrodes will be positioned over your body to measure your blood pressure and heart rate.

The catheter is inserted into an artery. Generally, the femoral artery (in the femur area, or thigh) is used. Sometimes, an artery in the patient's arm will be used for insertion. The catheter is guided through the incision, and through the body to the heart.

Once in position, the balloon-tipped catheter is expanded; if there is a stent used (in almost all cases) the stent remains when the balloon is deflated.

In 2003, stents coated with drugs were approved for use by the FDA. Such stents have been shown to reduce "restenosis" (a recurrence of the narrowing of a blood vessel). However, both traditional and drug-coated stents can cause blood clots to form.

After the Procedure

After the procedure, you are likely to feel groggy from the sedative. You will be taken to bed for from two to eight hours where you will lie with your legs straight. You may be asked to stay overnight.

The area on the thigh where the catheter was inserted will likely be sore and bruised.

Your doctor will give you post-procedure instructions regarding exercise and heavy lifting, care of the thigh incision point and possible medications.

Is It Safe?

As with any invasive or minimally invasive procedure, there are risks. Your physician will discuss with you the risks attendant to the Balloon Angioplasty procedure.

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