Angioplasty is a procedure in
which a balloon catheter (thin tube) is inserted into a
blocked artery to remove the blockage. The blockage may be
in an artery in the arm, leg, or in the heart.
The catheter is inserted into a blood vessel either at the
elbow or groin. It is pushed through the inside of the blood
vessel so that the tip of the catheter is at the point of
the blockage in the artery. Inflating a balloon at the tip
of the catheter stretches the narrowed artery allowing blood
to flow normally through the artery again. The doctor then
removes the catheter and balloon.
How to prepare for it?
Before surgery, a consent form
needs to be signed by the patient for angioplasty, bypass
surgery and angiography (X-ray study of the blood vessels
using dye). This consent form is needed in case
complications arise during the angioplasty and emergency
surgery is needed.
Blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG) and an X-ray of the
chest will be done. Do not eat or drink anything after
midnight on the night before the procedure.
The area where the catheter will be inserted (arm or groin)
will be shaved and washed with antibacterial soap to prevent
infection. Before the procedure is performed, an intravenous
line (tube into a vein) will be set up. Medicines to relax
the patient will be given.
What happens during the
Before angioplasty, a local
anaesthetic is given where the catheter will be inserted.
Using X-ray imaging, a doctor will guide a thin wire into
the blocked artery through a needle that has been inserted
into the blood vessel in the arm or groin.
The doctor will guide a catheter with a balloon at the tip
along the wire. When the catheter reaches the narrowed
artery or vessel, the balloon is inflated and deflated
several times, widening the blocked passage. Then the
deflated balloon, catheter, and wire is removed.
What happens after the
Monitoring in a cardiac care
unit or a hospital room is done from several hours to a
couple of days, depending on the location of the blockage
and the medical condition.
If the catheter was inserted into the groin, the patient
will have to lie flat on their back and not move the leg or
groin for about 6 hours. A sandbag may be placed on the
groin to apply pressure and prevent excess bleeding. The
patient will be up and walking in 12 to 24 hours after the
procedure. When the condition is stable, the patient will be
released to rest at home.
What are the benefits of
It can restore the function of the artery
without major surgery.
It does not require removing blood
vessels from another part of the body (as is often necessary
in bypass surgery).
It can be performed without using general
What are the risks associated
with this procedure?
This is a relatively safe procedure and not
too many risks are involved. In any case, the expected
benefit far outweighs the risks. The risks include
possibilities of allergic reaction to the X-ray dye,
excessive bleeding, perforation of the blood vessels, heart
injury or rhythm abnormalities, failure to open the
blockage, amputation and stroke.
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