Angioplasty is a surgical procedure done to open a blood vessel, usually an artery, that has a blockage. In many cases, our surgeon will install a small tube called a stent to keep the vessel open after performing the procedure.
Angioplasty can relieve symptoms of heart disease like chest pain or shortness of breath, and it is often done on people with angina. It can also be performed during a heart attack to reduce the damage to the heart caused by a blocked artery.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
The patient will be given an anesthetic right above the targeted blood vessel. This blood vessel will usually be in the arm or groin. Our specialist may also insert a catheter or guide tube into the blood vessel and then work its way towards the blockage.
Upon reaching the blockage or constricted area, our surgeon will send the balloon catheter, which has a balloon at its tip, down the guide catheter. The balloon will then be expanded, and it will squash the plaque causing the blockage or constriction.
Unblocking one blood vessel takes about thirty minutes. If our surgeon needs to unblock several vessels, the procedure will take longer.
What is a Stent?
A stent is an expandable tube that is usually made of wire mesh. It is used to keep a blood vessel open. During your angioplasty procedure, our specialist will send the stent down the blood vessel with the balloon catheter. The stent encircles the balloon. When the balloon is blown up, the stent expands and presses against the walls of the blood vessel. When the balloon is deflated and removed, the stent will be left in place.
Stents can be drug-eluting or bare-metal. Drug-eluting stents are coated with a medication that keeps the blood vessel from developing another blockage. Bare-metal stents don’t have such a coating; they are generally used on patients who are allergic to the ingredients in the medication. When you meet with our cardiologists, we will explain the different types of stents in more detail with you.
How Should the Patient Prepare?
The patient will usually need to undergo an electrocardiogram (EKG) and blood tests on the day before the procedure. The patient should inform our doctor if they have any allergies or take any medications. If they take blood-thinners, for example, they will need to stop taking them several days before the procedure. Our surgeon will advise the patient about whether they should continue taking a medication.