Angioplasty and Stenting

What is it?

Angioplasty and stenting is a procedure to open narrow or blocked arteries caused by fatty material called plaque. This narrowing or blockage can reduce the blood supply. The procedure is also known as a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

What is it for?

It is often done to treat a heart attack.

How to prepare

If the procedure is done for an emergency, you won’t have much time to prepare. Sometimes it’s done in advance.

If your procedure is pre-planned, you’ll need to tell your health care provider about medications you take and any allergies.


  • Bleeding at the catheter site
  • Clotting or damage to blood vessels
  • Infection at the catheter site
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Coronary artery rupture, requiring surgery

What happens during?

You will be given I.V. medication to make you feel comfortable. You will also be given medicine to relax. Your physician will make a surgical incision in your groin, arm or leg. They’ll insert a catheter (a flexible tube) through the incision into an artery. Your physician will use live X-ray pictures to see your artery. This kind of X-ray is called fluoroscopy.

Next, your physician will pass a guide wire through the catheter to the blockage. Another catheter with a very small balloon on the end will be pushed over the guide wire and into the blockage. Then the balloon will be blown up. The balloon presses against the inside wall of your artery. This opens the artery and restores proper blood flow.

A stent (a wire mesh tube) may also be placed in the blocked area. The stent is inserted at the same time as the balloon catheter. It expands when the balloon is blown up. The stent is left in place to help keep the artery open. The physician then removes the balloon.

What happens after?

You’ll go to the recovery room. The length of your stay there will vary according to your health and the seriousness of your heart condition.

An angioplasty and stenting may require at least one overnight stay in a hospital.

Side effects

Once you’ve gone home you may experience some side effects. Notify your physician immediately if you experience:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Pain, redness, swelling or bleeding at the insertion site
  • Coolness, numbness, tingling or other changes in the affected body part
  • Chest pain/pressure, dizziness, fainting, sweating, nausea, vomiting