Angioplasty

Angioplasty is the technique of widening a narrowed artery with a balloon.

The procedure is performed in much the same way as a routine angiogram.

Local anaesthetic is used and a small tube is placed in the artery, usually in the groin. A balloon is then advanced into the narrowed section of the artery. As the balloon is inflated the narrowing is dilated or widened. The balloon is then collapsed and removed through the small tube.

Sometimes the narrowing will “spring” back or the balloon may cause some damage to the artery. In this situation a stent may be used. Stents are flexible metal tubes that resemble a roll of very fine chicken wire. They are placed in the artery in the same way as the angioplasty balloon but are left inside the artery. Stents help to keep the artery open.

Following angioplasty and removal of the tube from the groin, pressure will be applied for about half an hour and you should lie quietly in bed for a further 8 hours. All angioplasty patients should remain in hospital for one night.

Risks of Angioplasty and Stenting

Angioplasty and stenting has much the same risks as angiography with the additional risks of damaging the artery with the balloon or stent or placing the stent in an incorrect position.

In these uncommon situations emergency operations may be required. It is important however to remember that the great majority of patients who undergo angiography or angioplasty and stenting have no serious complications.

Bruising and a small lump are common but will usually resolve fairly quickly. Successful angioplasty may mean that a large open operation can be avoided.