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 peripheral arterial disease and is sometimes combined with stenting in which a small metal mesh tube is placed to ensure the artery stays open.
Angioplasty is performed in a special operating room called a catheterization laboratory.
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. The needle inserts into a tapered tube, called a sheath, into the hole. A catheter with a balloon in its tip is inserted through the sheath. An imaging method called fluoroscopy guides the needle to the blocked artery. With the tip at the site of the blockage, the balloon is expanded. The ballon pushes the plaque against the artery wall and relieving the blockage.
When the procedure is complete, the doctor removes the catheter and sheath. Then they close 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. Additionally, they will ensure the catheter insertion site closes properly.