Angioplasty is a procedure to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. These blood vessels are called the coronary arteries.

A coronary artery stent is a small, metal mesh tube that expands inside a coronary artery. A stent is often placed after angioplasty. It helps prevent the artery from closing up again. A drug eluting stent has medicine in it that helps prevent closing of the artery.

What is a balloon angioplasty?

Balloon angioplasty is a way of opening a blocked blood vessel. Instead of using surgery to cut the blood vessel open, doctors can slide a small tube on the inside of the blood vessel and direct it to the area that is blocked using x-rays. Inflating the balloon on the end of the tube pushes the blockage out of the way and allows more blood to flow through the artery.


Angioplasty is generally safe, but ask your doctor about the possible complications. Risks of angioplasty and stent placement are : –

  • Allergic reaction to the x-ray dye
  • Bleeding or clotting in the area where the catheter was inserted
  • Damage to a heart valve or blood vessel
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure (higher risk in people who already have kidney problems)
  • Irregular heart beats (arrhythmias)
  • Stroke (this is rare)
  • Allergic reaction to the stent material
  • Allergic reaction to the drug used in a drug-eluting stent
  • Blood clot
  • Clogging of the inside of the stent (in-stent restenosis)
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What is an angioplasty like? Is it painful?

Most patients feel some pressure during angioplasty but the procedure is not usually uncomfortable. The doctor uses local anesthesia (lidocaine) to numb the skin on the upper thigh before placing a small needle into the leg artery. The needle is then removed and replaced with a flexible tube through which the doctor can complete the rest of the procedure. Injecting a substance called contrast agent (x-ray dye) helps the doctor see the blood vessels on the x-ray and direct the balloon or stent into position. After balloon angioplasty patients usually spend one night in the hospital for observation, and they can return to their full activity level 24 to 48 hours later.

Angioplasty and stenting are usually done through a small puncture, or sometimes a small incision, in your skin, called the access site. Your vascular surgeon inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter through this access site. Using X-ray guidance, your physician then guides the catheter through your blood vessels to the blocked area. The tip of the catheter carries the angioplasty balloon or stent.

Angioplasty most often is used to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is another name for hardening of the arteries supplying blood to your limbs or to organs in your body other than your heart. Angioplasty can also be used, in some circumstances, to treat narrowed areas in your veins, which are blood vessels that drain blood out of your limbs or organs and return the blood to your lungs and heart.

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