Angioplasty is also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Coronary angioplasty procedures open blocked or clogged arteries and allow blood to flow to your heart muscle. Angioplasty is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time than bypass surgery. Most of the time, stents (thin metal scaffoldings) are placed during angioplasty procedures to keep arteries open.

  • The cardiologist inserts a catheter (a thin, soft tube) into an artery, usually in the groin, but sometimes above the elbow
  • The doctor then carefully guides the catheter through blood vessels until it reaches the opening of the coronary arteries
  • A very thin wire is then placed down the artery through the area of blockage
  • A tiny balloon, on the end of a catheter, is then advanced over the wire to the blocked area
  • The balloon is inflated. When deflated, blood flow is restored to the area that was previously blocked
  • If a stent is needed, it is delivered to the area of the blockage on a balloon, using a technique similar to the balloon described above

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