Angioplasty, also known by its technical name Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), is a specialized procedure to open up a coronary artery which is narrowed due to plaque build-up. A fine tube, or catheter, is threaded from the artery in the wrist or groin up to the site of the blockage in the heart. The balloon-tip of the catheter is inflated to press the plaque back against the wall of the artery. When the catheter is removed, the artery remains open wider than before, allowing more blood and oxygen to get to the heart muscle.
In most cases, a tiny wire coil called a stent is inserted with the catheter to help stabilize the newly opened area of plaque. Stents are not necessary for all patients.
The procedure takes place in one of our two Catheterization (Cath) Labs, and is performed by a specialist called an interventional cardiologist. Angioplasty takes approximately one hour to perform, followed by recovery. This recovery may take anywhere from a few hours in the PCI short stay unit, to a few days in the ICU and/or the 2C Cardiovascular Unit.
During recovery, a maximum of two visitors 12 years of age and older are welcome at the bedside in the PCI short stay unit, the 2C Cardiovascular Unit, or the Critical Care Unit (ICU). This limit is to encourage patients to rest, and to reduce traffic and noise in the recovery area. We ask that visitors respect other patients and their families in these quiet areas.