Angioplasty restores blood flow to the heart by opening narrowed or blocked arteries. Your doctor has two options for this procedure:
Balloon angioplasty—formally called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)—is a technique that accesses blockages using small balloons threaded through the arteries of the heart.
Using a catheter with a balloon attached, your doctor threads it to where the coronary arteries branch off to the heart. Once the catheter is positioned over the blockage, he or she inflates the tiny balloon. The pressure causes the plaque blocking the artery to split and compress, molding it against the artery wall and restoring blood flow.
Once the blockage is cleared, the doctor deflates the balloon and removes the catheter.
Some blockages are too long or too complicated for the balloon technique to be effective. In this case, your doctor may opt to use laser angioplasty. The laser directs a cool beam toward the blockage through a catheter in the coronary artery. The laser beam vaporizes the plaque causing the blockage, changing it to gases and water.
A balloon angioplasty may follow laser angioplasty.
MedStar Heart Institute
Cardiac Catheterization Lab
110 Irving Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010
For information or appointments, please call DOCtorsLine at 202-877-DOCS (3627).