Angioplasty is a procedure that can restore adequate blood flow to the heart by opening narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. This procedure involves a cardiac catheterization and angiography, which is used to show blood flow through the coronary arteries.
Angioplasty can also be used to treat certain blockages. A balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the blocked area and inflated. This presses plaque or fatty deposits against the wall of the artery, enlarging it from within and restoring proper blood flow to the heart.
Sometimes another balloon-tipped catheter will be used to place a small, wire mesh device, called a stent, into the opened artery. The stent props the artery open and prevents the formation of blood clots.
In certain patients, angioplasty is a good alternative to coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), a major surgical procedure that "bypasses" a blocked artery by grafting another vessel around it. However, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) may be the best treatment for those with severe blockages.