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Interventional procedures on the heart

The following procedures are performed using cardiac catheterization.

cardiac catheterization

Angioplasty

Angioplasty is the method used to repair a narrowed or blocked artery.

Percutaneous means that the procedure is done through the skin. Transluminal means that it is done inside the artery. Coronary means that it is an artery of the heart.

This treatment helps more blood flow through your coronary arteries.

  • When you are in the cardiac catheterization lab, a tube with a tiny balloon at the tip is inserted through a leg or arm artery.
  • The tube is guided through the arteries of your body to the blocked heart artery.
  • The balloon is slowly inflated many times.
  • The inflated balloon squeezes the build-up of plaque against your artery wall and slightly stretches the vessel to improve blood flow.
  • After the procedure the balloon is removed from your body.

Angioplasty is also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).

Laser angioplasty opens narrowed heart arteries by using a laser catheter to transmit ultraviolet light to remove and vaporize the blockage.

Atherectomy devices

arrow points to link to more clinical trials informationMore about angioplasty

Atherectomy/Rotablator

  • Atherectomy: In an atherectomy a special catheter is used to cut plaque out of the artery of the heart. The plaque is pushed into the small cone (tip) of the catheter and removed.
  • Rotablator: This is a high-speed diamond drill that can cut through blockage in the artery. The particles are broken up so they are very small (smaller than a red blood cell) and can be filtered out of the body by the liver. The rotater blade is sometimes used for arteries that have a build-up of calcium.

Clot removal

A special catheter (tube) can be used to break up blood clots and vacuum (suction) to remove the clots from the artery of the heart or other blood vessels in the body.

Coronary stent

A coronary stent helps more blood flow through your arteries. A stent is a small stainless steel mesh tube that is put on a balloon catheter.

The catheter is guided into place and the balloon is inflated.

The stent expands and stays inside the artery to support the walls and keep the artery open.

After about 4 weeks, your artery builds a coating of cells around the stent and it will feel like a normal artery wall to your body.

Tip

The stent will not set off airport alarms, but it is still important to carry the special card you were given that identifies your medical condition.

arrow points to link to more clinical trials informationMore about coronary stents

Drug-eluting stent

This stent has a medicine that is slowly released to help prevent scar tissue from building up and narrowing the artery.


 

 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 06/01/2007

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts