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Angioplasty

Angioplasty is a procedure that has many similarities to cardiac catheterization. The procedure can be performed through the femoral artery in the groin or brachial artery in the arm. A plastic tube is placed in either the groin or arm. A second tube is then inserted into either the left or right coronary artery. A small wire is placed across the area of narrowing in the right or left coronary artery. Over the wire a tube is placed with a balloon. The balloon is then expanded in the area of blockage and the artery is stretched opened both inside and outside to allow improved blood flow to the area of the heart where the narrowed artery was located. During the time that the balloon is inflated, patients usually experience some of their pain or symptoms that cause them to present to their doctor. These symptoms last approximately 30-60 seconds. When the balloon is deflated and withdrawn, the symptoms are eliminated. The procedure takes approximately 60 minutes to perform. Following the procedure the tubes in either the arm or leg remain in place and your doctor may have you remain on a blood thinner which would require prolonged bed rest with the tubes in place. More commonly, if the tubes are removed in 4-6 hours, and following a further 6-8 hours of bed rest the patient will then be able to ambulate. Most patients are ready for discharge to home on the day following the procedure. Most patients can be back to an active life style within 1 week. We usually ask the patients to follow up with their cardiologists within 1-3 weeks. The success rate for coronary angioplasty is 90-95%. There is a less than 1% risk of death. There is a 1-3% risk of emergency bypass surgery if the blood vessel cannot be successfully opened or is opened and threatens to close. There is a 30-40% re-narrowing of the artery where the balloon angioplasty was performed in the first 3-6 months following the procedure. If patients have no symptoms after 6 months it is unlikely for them to have a recurrence at the site of the original angioplasty.

 

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