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5 Non-Surgical Interventional Procedures for Treating Coronary Blockages

Balloon Angioplasty

Balloon angioplasty, also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), is performed to open blocked coronary arteries and improve blood flow to the heart without having to do open-heart surgery.  

This procedure involves using a small balloon that is located at the tip of the catheter (a lon,g hollow tube). It is inserted through a blood vessel in the groin and threaded up to the heart, near the blocked or narrowed part of the coronary artery. Once in the right spot, the balloon is inflated and the blockage is compressed against the artery walls to make a larger opening inside the artery for improved blood flow.

A special type of x-ray called fluoroscopy is used to help the doctor see the location of the blockages as a contrast dye moves through the arteries.

Balloon Angioplasty With Stenting

Coronary stents are almost universally used in PCI procedures. A stent is a small, expandable, metal mesh tube that is inserted inside the artery to give it support to stay open.  

After the proper placement is determined, the balloon is inflated and the stent is expanded to the size of the artery. It acts as a sort of a scaffold to help hold the artery open. The balloon is then deflated and removed, while the stent remains in place.

After the stent is placed permanently inside the artery, it can be expanded and stretched to fit the size, shape, and bend of the artery. For the old-style bare-metal stents, within a few days after the procedure, tissue will begin to form over the stent. It will usually take about a month for the stent to get completely covered by the natural tissue. For the newer, drug-eluting types of stents (see the next section for more information), it can take considerably longer for the stent to heal over.

This particular procedure is the most commonly recommended treatment for those who have a blockage in one or two coronary arteries. However, if more than two coronary arteries are blocked, then a bypass surgery may be the best option.

Life After a Stent: 5 Realistic Ways to Take Charge of Your Health

Coronary Stent Information

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