Coronary angioplasty is used to widen coronary arteries that are narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits. A special catheter is passed through the femoral artery in the groin, or through an artery in the arm, and into the coronary artery. A guidewire is passed through this catheter and across the narrowed segment of artery. A balloon catheter is threaded over the wire and the balloon is inflated in the narrowed segment of artery to widen it. In most cases a stent (a tubular scaffold device) is inserted afterwards to keep the artery open.
A catheter with a deflated balloon attached to its tip is threaded into the artery. The catheter is placed precisely so that the balloon is inside the narrowed area of the coronary artery.
The balloon is inflated and deflated in order to compress the fatty deposits and widen the narrowed segment of artery. The balloon is then withdrawn.
A stent, mounted on a balloon, is threaded into the artery, and positioned at the site of narrowing. The balloon is inflated, expanding the stent so that it presses against the artery wall.
The balloon is then deflated and removed from the artery. The stent remains expanded in position and holds the artery open.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.