Percutaneous Coronary Intervention

What is a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention?

A percutaneous coronary intervention is sometimes called a coronary intervention or a coronary angioplasty. This is when the coronary arteries are opened up with the use of a balloon, stent or both.

A coronary intervention happens during a cardiac catheterization.

A cardiac catheterization also called a coronary angiogram is a special type of x-ray that allows your coronary arteries to be viewed and recorded on film. Your doctor can see if the blood vessels to your heart are clogged.

What should I expect during the test?

You will be awake during the test however before the procedure you will receive medication to help make you more relaxed.

You will receive a local anesthetic to prevent pain at the insertion site. The doctor will then insert a long thin tube called a catheter into an artery in your groin or arm and guide it into your heart.

A contrast dye is injected through the catheter into your blood vessels or heart chambers. X-rays are taken to show clear pictures of the inside of your heart and coronary arteries.

If the blockage is appropriate for a balloon angioplasty the doctor may do the procedure at this time. A balloon tipped catheter is inserted through the guiding catheter. It is positioned in the narrow part of the artery. The balloon is inflated several times to compress the plaque against the artery wall.

If the blockage is appropriate for a stent placement the doctor may do the procedure at this time. A stent, is a small metal coil or mesh tube that is mounted on a balloon tipped catheter. The stent is delivered to the narrow part of the artery on this catheter and then the balloon in inflated causing the stent to expand.

After the procedure is completed you will be asked to lie flat for 2-12 hours. A nurse will check your blood pressure and the insertion site. You may be asked to drink fluid to help flush the contrast out of your system.

What about the test results?

The results of the test will be discussed with you and your family the day of the test. You will need to stay at least one night in the hospital.