What is angioplasty?

Angioplasty is a surgical procedure which involves inserting a small balloon and then stent to reduce the narrowing of an artery, leaving blood to flow freely. It is generally performed on arteries providing blood to the heart.

Using a long thin catheter, an interventional cardiologist inserts a small balloon in the blood vessel where the narrowing is occurring, and then inflates it as required.

This minimally invasive procedure reduces the need for open heart surgery. It can be done following a heart attack, or as pre-emptive surgery to treat escalating angina symptoms (chest pain).

Why do I need an angioplasty?

Once your cardiology team has confirmed the presence of a narrowed artery or blood vessel, they will start preparing you for an angioplasty (also known as a stent implant).

The angioplasty is performed to restore coronary artery blood flow and reduce the risk of a heart attack, especially if a hard-to-reach blockage is present.

What can I expect from my angioplasty surgery?

Prof Dion Stub and his expert cardiology team will carefully explain the angioplasty procedure before it is performed. As per any operation, there are very small risks involved, and they will be discussed in depth before and after the surgery.

You will be asked to refrain from eating and drinking for 4 hours prior to surgery, but small amounts of water will be permitted to assist when taking medication.

The percutaneous (no cutting) procedure is usually performed through the radial (wrist artery) with local anaesthetic and a very light sedative.

X-ray contrast (dye) is injected in the arteries to guide placement of  balloon-tipped catheter and stent. X-rays and angiograms are then taken to see how blood flow has improved, and the catheter is removed. A coronary stent may be left in place to keep the artery from narrowing again.

Prof Dion Stub will see you again after procedure to answer any questions, and schedule your follow-up visits.

The coronary stent

Positioned using a catheter, a coronary stent is a small expandable mesh coil that restores and protects the artery from narrowing. It is inserted by a surgeon during an angioplasty procedure and usually remains in place for the rest of your life.

What can I expect from my angioplasty recovery?

You will likely be required to spend the night in hospital following surgery, and you can expect slight discomfort and pain at the incision site. Most patients are discharged from the hospital within 12-24 hours and can return to work within a few days.