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Angioplasty and Stents


Angioplasty: It is a non-surgical procedure used to open blocked heart arteries in short it is performed on patients with cardiovascular disease. This procedure involves inserting a medical device, such as a balloon, into the heart to open an artery narrowed by plaque. In angioplasty a sheath is inserted into an artery, usually in your groin, but sometimes in the arm. A catheter is passed through the sheath and guided up the blood vessel surrounding the heart then a small amount of contrast material is injected through the catheter and is photographed with an X-ray as it moves through the heart's chambers, valves, and major vessels. From the digital pictures of the contrast material, the doctors can tell whether the coronary arteries are narrowed or if the heart valves are working correctly. It can involve placement of a stent coated with medicine to help keep the vessel open. Heart disease treated with angioplasty provides rapid relief of symptoms and majority of patients are able to return to regular life activities. Angioplasty is used to:

  • Restore blood flow to the affected area of the heart by opening narrowed coronary arteries
  • Provide relief of chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Reduce the risk of heart attack and prolong life.

Different types of interventional procedures that can be used when performing angioplasty include:

  • Balloon angioplasty: During this procedure, a catheter with a small balloon at the tip is guided to the point of narrowing in the artery and once in place, the balloon is inflated to compress the fatty matter into the artery wall and stretch the artery open which increases the blood flow to the heart.
  • Stent: A stent is a small metal mesh tube that is placed during interventional procedures such as angioplasty to help keep the coronary artery open.
  • Rotoblation: It is a special catheter, with an acorn-shaped, diamond-coated tip which is guided to the point of narrowing in the coronary artery. The tip spins around at a high speed and grinds away the plaque on the artery walls and these microscopic particles are washed safely away in your blood stream and filtered out by your liver and spleen.
  • Cutting Balloon: The cutting balloon catheter has a special balloon tip with small blades. When the balloon is inflated, the blades are activated.

Stents: Stents are tiny, expandable tubes made of metal mesh which are used to open a blood vessel that is blocked by plaque. Angioplasty opens the artery, and stents are placed and expanded to fit the size, shape and bend of the artery. These stent remain in the artery after the procedure to keep the artery open and over time, the artery wall heals around the stent. There are two kinds of artery stents:

  • Bare-metal stents help keep the artery open after angioplasty by supporting the artery wall.
  • Drug-coated stents are bare-metal stents with a special drug coating.

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