Balloon Angioplasty is a procedure used to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. This involves inflating a small balloon inside the artery so as to increase the blood flow to the heart. It may be performed as an emergency procedure after a heart attack or to treat symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) such as chest pain and shortness of breath.
The procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory under local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. You will be lying down on your back on an X-ray table during the procedure. The site where the catheter will be inserted is disinfected and a local anesthetic is injected, to numb the area. An angiogram is taken to locate the blockage within the coronary artery, before proceeding to angioplasty procedure.
During angioplasty, a guide wire is inserted through the catheter advancing it across the blockage. The catheter with deflated balloon on its end is threaded over the guide wire into the blockage. The balloon is then inflated to push the plaque against the artery walls, and open up the artery to increase blood flow to the heart. Often, a stent will be placed within the artery. A stent is a wire mesh tube placed within the artery to help keep the artery open.
Risks and complications following this procedure is rare. However, some specific complications for angioplasty are bleeding from the catheter insertion site, irregular heartbeat, chest pain during procedure, blood vessel damage from the catheter, kidney damage from dye used with angiogram, re-stenosis (re-accumulation of plaque or scar tissue causing narrowing or blockage of the coronary artery; occurs within 6 months), blood clots, and dislocation of stent.