Angioplasty

Angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a procedure used to open blocked coronary arteries (caused by coronary artery disease). It restores blood flow to the heart muscle without open-heart surgery. Angioplasty can be done in an emergency setting such as an acute heart attack or in an elective setting when heart disease is strongly suspected from non-invasive testing.

For angioplasty, a special catheter (a long, thin, hollow tube) is inserted into a blood vessel and guided to the blocked coronary artery. The catheter has a tiny balloon at its tip. Once the catheter is in place, the balloon is inflated at the narrowed area of the coronary artery. This presses the plaque or blood clot blocking the artery against the sides of the artery making more room for blood flow.

The use of fluoroscopy (a special type of X-ray that’s like an X-ray "movie") helps the doctor find the blockages in the coronary arteries as a contrast dye moves through the arteries. This is called coronary angiography.

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