An angioplasty is a surgical procedure done to unblock or widen a blood vessel. It is commonly done on the coronary arteries that carry blood to the heart.
During a typical angioplasty procedure, the doctor will insert a thin tube called a catheter into an artery in the patient’s groin or leg. Using an X-ray screen to guide them, the doctor will maneuver the catheter through the arteries until they reach the blocked coronary artery.
The doctor inserts a very thin guidewire through the catheter to or across the blocked and narrowed section of the artery. They then insert another catheter containing an uninflated balloon over the guidewire to the blockage. The doctor inflates the balloon, and it pushes the plaque and other deposits causing the blockage against the artery’s walls. Depending on the size and extent of the blockage, the doctor may inflate the balloon several times.
In many cases, the doctor will also insert a tube made of wire mesh called a stent that keeps the artery open. The stent will be placed around a balloon and inserted through the catheter. When the doctor inflates the balloon, the stent expands to its full size. It remains expanded when the doctor deflates the balloon and removes it. The doctor also removes the guidewire and catheter. An angioplasty generally takes around 30 minutes if only one segment of an artery is being widened; if several segments are being treated, the procedure takes longer.
If the doctor used the leg as the insertion site, the patient will have to rest in bed for several hours, and the medical team will monitor them. Once at home, the patient should avoid intensive exercise and heavy lifting for at least the next day or two. Our team of experts will make sure to give you detailed instructions on how to care for yourself after the procedure.
Medical professionals will often recommend an angioplasty for people with angina, which is a chest pain that comes from the heart. Angina is caused by narrowed coronary arteries. People with angina often feel fine when resting, but they feel pain when they exert themselves, and the narrowed arteries keep the heart muscles from getting the oxygen and blood they require.
An angioplasty can also be an emergency procedure that’s used when someone is having a heart attack. The angioplasty lets blood reach the affected part of the heart and can reduce the damage done to it.
To learn more about how an angioplasty can help you, set up a consultation at Cardiology Consultants of Southwest Florida and The Vein Center. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office in Fort Myers.