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Coronary Angioplasty Surgery

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 8 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Coronary Angioplasty Coronary Arteries

For those who have been diagnosed with narrowed coronary arteries as a result of built up fatty plaques or those who continue to experience narrowed arteries even after major surgery, the option of having coronary angioplasty may be discussed.

What Exactly Is It?

Based on the same principle as an angiogram, a guide wire followed by a catheter is passed into the circulatory system via a peripheral artery, usually the femoral artery found in the groin area at the top of the thigh. The guide wire and catheter are introduced and progressed through the complex network of blood vessels until they reach the heart and the affected coronary artery. This process is aided by the use of x-rays and dyes that can track the progress of the catheter and ensure the correct anatomy is being operated on.

When the catheter reaches it’s required destination, a stent (a tube like device) in introduced, which will be inflated to widen the artery allowing for the blood to flow more smoothly. The stent remains in place whilst the catheter is withdrawn.

The wound will need compressing with force for at least ten minutes to prevent bleeding occurring. The patient should remain still until staff are happy that no side effects or bleeding are likely to occur. A dressing will be applied to the wound.

The purpose of widening the artery is to try and relieve the pressure on the heart by reducing the force at which it needs to pump to overcome the narrowing of the artery and reduce the likelihood of angina and heart attack.

What To Expect

This procedure is likely to be suggested following an angiogram that has confirmed diagnosis of a narrowed artery.

Due to the nature of the operation, sedation may be offered, and for this reason, you will probably be asked to refrain from eating and drinking for at least 4-6 hours prior to the procedure.

The area in which the incision is to made will first be numbed using local anaesthetic, the area may be shaved if necessary and then cleaned prior to the incision being made.

It often requires the patient to have an over night stay, though some can be treated as a day patient, depending on their overall health, the amount of sedation needed, how long the procedure took and whether the patient has coped with it without any problem.

Is It Dangerous?

As with most invasive procedures, there are a few small risks, such as the patient being allergic to the dye used or that injury occurs to the lining of the vessels. Overall these risks are minimal and will be discussed before consent is gained.

There may be a chance of some bruising around the site of incision but this should clear up after a few days. If the wound becomes sore, hot and begins to weep, see your practice nurse or GP as an infection may be present that may require a course of anti-biotics.

Angioplasty has proven to be a very efficient way of managing narrowed arteries. It is not suitable for everyone, especially those who have multiple blockages, but for those who are suitable, it can drastically reduce the need for major cardiac surgery involving the need for grafting of the coronary arteries.

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