Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty

November 12, 2012

Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty

What is a Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty? Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty is a procedure performed in order to open blocked coronary arteries. These blockages are often caused as a result of coronary artery disease. The aim of the surgery is to allow blood to flow properly and to be able to reach the heart tissue.

How is it done?

A long hollow tube known as a catheter is inserted into the affected artery. At the tip of the catheter is a balloon, which can be inflated once the tip at the location of the restricted or narrow artery. The inflation of the balloon causes the artery to open wider, therefore giving the blood more room to flow freely. The physician uses a fluoroscopy, which works in a similar way to an x-ray to help reveal the location of blockages. A contrast dye is used, which can be followed along the arteries to see where it gets stuck due to blockages. A small sample of heart tissue may be taken at the same time during the procedure so that it can be tested for any abnormalities. An intravascular ultrasound may also be used to assist the physician during the procedure. It can also produce images of the blood vessels and arteries to there is a clear visualisation for the physician to follow, which also provides him or her with an idea of how large the blockage is and therefore what size balloon is required. During the surgery the physician will also decide if any other procedures are necessary such as an atherectomy. This is the removal of plaque from inside the artery and may be necessary if the plaque is hardened or if the artery is completely closed.

Stent placement

Part of the Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty procedure commonly includes a stent placement. This is a small and expandable metal coil, which is placed into the artery that has just been opened. The purpose of the stent is to prevent the artery from closing or narrowing again. Tissue will naturally begin to grow over the stent and within a month it will be completely covered. Medication is needed to stop blood clots from forming inside the stent leading to further complications. In many of the newer models the inside of the stent comes coated in this medication. If the stent is to become blocked then radiation therapy can be used to clear the area reopen the artery. Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty is a common procedure, although as with all types of surgery there is some risks, which include bleeding or infection at the site of catheter insertion, damage to the blood vessel, arrhythmias, chest pain and rupture of the coronary artery.

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