Cardiac catheterization with angioplasty is a procedure that allows your doctor to study the condition of your heart, including the muscle, valves, and arteries. It can also be used to open blocked coronary arteries and improve blood and oxygen flow to the heart without surgery.
If the doctor injects the dye and locates a blockage, he or she will prepare for the balloon angioplasty. During angioplasty the doctor inserts a special balloon-tipped catheter into the artery and guides it to the blockage. Once the balloon catheter is correctly placed, it is inflated and deflated several times. With a successful angioplasty the blockage is squeezed outward against the wall of the artery and blood flow is restored.
Depending on the specifics of the blockage, the doctor may place a stent in the artery. The stent is an expandable device that is mounted on a balloon catheter. The stent and balloon are advanced to the blockage area and the stent is expanded into place. A stent supports the artery and helps it remain open for a longer period of time. After stent placement, the body will grow tissue over the stent to help maintain its position. The stent will not move around.
The procedure usually takes from 1 to 3 hours, but this varies from patient to patient. Once the procedure is complete, the doctor will take out the catheter but the introducer may remain in the artery. The doctor leaves the introducer in place for a period of time in case signs of artery re-closure are encountered, or, happen.