Coronary Angioplasty (Stent)

A coronary angioplasty (stent) is a procedure used to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. A short wire-mesh tube, called a stent, is inserted into an artery to allow blood to flow more freely through it. Coronary angioplasty is sometimes known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

What happens?

During an angioplasty, a flexible tube called a catheter is used to insert a mesh tube, known as a stent, into the coronary artery. A small balloon is inflated to open the stent, which pushes against the artery walls. This widens the artery, squashing fatty deposits against the artery wall so that blood can flow through it more freely.

The procedure usually takes around 30 minutes, but it can take longer depending on how many sections of your artery need treatment. You will normally be able to go home the day after a coronary angioplasty. You will need to avoid driving for around a week.

What are the risks?

As with any procedure there could be complications:

• Bleeding
• Bruising
• Infection

Specific complications of balloon coronary angioplasty may include:

• Reaction to contrast dye
• Change in heart rhythm
• Heart attack or stroke (rare)

Be sure to talk through with your consultant how any risks might apply to you.