What Is Angioplasty And When Is It Done?

Question: What is angioplasty and when is it done?

Answer: Angioplasty is a technique that's done during a cardiac catheterization. So it's very similar as a diagnostic catheterization, where catheters, or tubes, are placed up the main blood vessel to the heart; an x-ray dye is injected to look at the arteries around the heart.

And during that procedure, the physician would then put a small, a very, very small little wire, about the size of three hairs. And he wiggles that down through the opening, through the artery, through the blocked area, and then on top of that little wire goes a balloon catheter -- these days, often with a stent or wire mesh that's embedded on top of that balloon. It goes into the blockage, the balloon is inflated and it pushes aside the blockage of the hardening in the arteries. So now the opening, instead of being narrowed is back to a normal size opening allowing normal blood to go to the heart muscle.

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