Angioplasty is reshaping an artery using tools placed through the blood vessel itself, rather than open surgery. To perform the procedure, a catheter is placed through the wrist(link to wrist article), or less commonly the groin, to the mouth of the coronary artery. A hair-thin wire is sent through the narrowed point in a coronary artery. The wire guides a balloon-tipped catheter to the narrowed part of the artery. Inflation of the balloon breaks and reshapes the narrowing.
Most angioplasty today is done with the aid of a stent. A stent is a metal cylinder whose paper-thin walls have had slits cut into them. The stent is placed on the outside of a balloon. With inflation of the balloon, the slits open further and the metal bends like an accordion gate. The bent parts of the former cylinder become a meshwork of struts that support the walls of the artery in its new shape.
Drug-Eluting stents are impregnated with medicines that control the healing process inside of the treated coronary artery. After stent-assisted angioplasty, the clotting system must be rigorously controlled with medication for the 3-12 month healing period.
Stent-assisted angioplasty provides immediate relief from symptoms and improved function of the part of the heart whose blood flow has been restored. The procedure is recommended primarily when symptoms remain unacceptable despite medical therapy.
If you would like to know more about stent-assisted angioplasty, contact us today.