Font Size
A
A
A
...
8
...

Coronary Heart Disease (cont.)

Medical Treatment: Invasive Procedures

When angina symptoms worsen despite medications, you may need an invasive procedure in the cardiac catheterization lab to clear the blocked artery. These procedures are performed by a cardiologist, not a cardiac surgeon, and have fewer complications.

Coronary angioplasty (PTCA): This procedure is similar to coronary angiography (cardiac catheterization or a dye study to visualize the inside of coronary arteries) but is therapeutic as well as diagnostic.

  • A similar but sturdier tube (guide catheter) is inserted into an artery in your groin or arm, and a hair-thin guide wire is threaded through it into your coronary artery.
  • A much thinner catheter is threaded over the guide wire into the blocked artery.
  • This thinner catheter has a tiny balloon at the end.
  • Once the balloon is positioned at the blockage, the balloon is inflated to widen your artery and improve blood flow. The plaque is still there, just flattened against the wall of the artery.
  • The balloon catheter is then withdrawn.
  • This procedure is sometimes referred to as PTCA, which stands for its full formal name: percutaneous (through the skin) transluminal (through the hollow center of the blood vessel) coronary angioplasty.

Stent: A stent is a small, sieved, coil-like metallic tube or scaffold mounted over a balloon.

  • The balloon is inflated at the blockage, which expands the stent.
  • The balloon is then withdrawn, but the stent stays in place, keeping the artery from narrowing again.
  • Like arteries treated with angioplasty alone, arteries treated with a stent can eventually close up again.
  • The stent is a longer lasting solution for many people.

Atherectomy: Sometimes the plaques become too rigid, bulky, or calcified to be treated with angioplasty or a stent.

  • In such cases, the plaques must be removed by cutting with a drill-like device.
  • This works only if the narrowing or blockage is limited to a relatively small and self-contained portion of an artery.
  • Devices commonly used for atherectomy include directional atherectomy (DCA) catheter, rotational atherectomy or rotablator (PTRA), transluminal extraction catheter (TEC), or AngioJet.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/22/2014
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Coronary Heart Disease

Angina
Angina Pectoris Angina pectoris is a term to describe chest pain that occurs when the heart is not getting enough blood. There are two types of angina, stable (the most common)...learn more >>
Automated External Defibrillators (AED)
Automated External Defibrillators (AED) Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are used when a person has had a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest. It is a machine that instructs the user through...learn more >>
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a procedure a person can use to assist a person who is in cardiac arrest. Providing CPR to a person who is in cardiac a...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Heart Disease:

Coronary Heart Disease - Causes

What was the cause of your coronary heart disease?





Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hypertensive Heart Disease »

Uncontrolled and prolonged elevation of blood pressure (BP) can lead to a variety of changes in the myocardial structure, coronary vasculature, and conduction system of the heart.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary