Angioplasty with stent placement is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to open clogged arteries and restore blood flow to the heart. It involves the temporary insertion and blowing up of a tiny balloon where the artery is clogged.  

When the balloon is inflated, it pushes against the walls of the blood vessel to allow more room for blood to flow. A small flexible, expandable metal coil (stent) is then placed in the artery to help keep it open. Some stents are coated with medication to help keep your artery open (drug-eluting stents), while others are not (bare-metal stents).

This procedure can greatly improve some of the symptoms of blocked arteries, such as chest pain and shortness of breath. It may also be used during a heart attack to quickly open a blocked artery and reduce the amount of damage to the heart.Cooper has a vast and renowned team of physicians who offer world class vascular and cardiovascular care and have extensive experience performing angioplasty with stent placement.

Understanding the procedure

A specially trained interventionist makes a small incision in the skin to locate the artery into which the long, hollow thin tube (catheter) that has a small balloon on its tip will go. The artery is typically in the leg but it can also be performed in the arm or wrist. 

A thin guide wire followed by the catheter is inserted into the artery. The physician gently slides the catheter from the incision area up to the blockage in the heart where it is inflated, widening the blocked artery. The balloon stays inflated for up to several minutes before it's deflated. This may be done several times before it's removed.

Once the artery is widened, the stent is placed around the balloon at the tip of the catheter and guided through the artery to the blockage. The balloon is inflated and the spring-like stent expands and locks into place inside the artery, where it remains permanently to hold it open and improve blood flow to the heart. The balloon catheter is removed and images (angiograms) are taken to see how well blood flows through the newly widened artery.

When it is positioned at the blockage, the balloon is inflated, expanding the stent. Once the stent is open, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is removed, leaving the stent behind to hold the artery open.

Indications for the procedure

Angioplasty with stenting is commonly used to treat persistent chest pain (angina) that medicines do not control, blockage of one or more coronary arteries that puts a person at risk for a heart attack, and blockage in a coronary artery during or after a heart attack.