Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting

Coronary Angioplasty, also called "PCI", (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention), is a procedure in which a catheter ( flexible plastic Tube) with a small balloon dilates, or "opens up", a blocked artery that supplies the heart muscle with blood. In contrast to open- heart surgery, PCI can be done by making a small puncture in the skin and inserting the catheter into an artery in the leg or arm. It generally hurts no more than a blood test. Patients are awake during the procedure. The entire procedure usually takes less than one hour, and most patients go home within one or two days after the procedure is over.
With advances in equipment and medications, angioplasty has become safer, and its risks have decreased. But it's still an invasive procedure inside the body with certain risks.
Many of these risks are similar to those of a Cardiac Catheterization procedure. These risks include bleeding, infection, allergic reaction to the X-ray dye used to take pictures, damage to blood vessels, stroke and kidney failure. Also, there is a small risk that the treated coronary artery can become damaged, possibly leading to a heart attack, the need for emergency bypass surgery or even death. The risk of the more severe events depends on many factors. In most patients the risk of emergency surgery or death from the Angioplasty procedure is quite low.

Can stented Arteries reclose?

Yes. Reclosure ( restenosis ) is a possible problem after a stent procedure. I recent years, doctors have used new types of stents called drug eluting stents. These are coated with drugs that are slowly released and help keep the blood vessel from reclosing. Stents that are not coated with drugs are called bare metal stents. As detailed below, it is very important that patients with either type of stent take their anti-clotting medicines as directed.

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