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Coronary Artery Angioplasty (Radial Access)


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A coronary angioplasty procedure is also known as percutaneous coronary intervention.

The procedure is done on blood vessels, called coronary arteries. They supply your heart muscle with oxygen.

The goal is to restore blood flow if a substance, called plaque, has significantly narrowed these vessels.

To begin the procedure, the doctor will numb the skin in your wrist.

A needle will be placed through your skin and into your radial artery.

Next, a flexible guidewire will be passed through the needle into your artery.

Then, the needle will be withdrawn. It will be exchanged for a small, flexible tube, called a sheath. This permits access into your artery.

You may feel pressure when the doctor inserts the sheath. But, you will not feel it moving inside your artery.

Next, the guidewire will be advanced up to your heart. A flexible tube, called a catheter, will be advanced over the wire to your coronary arteries.

The progress of the procedure will be checked with an x-ray device, called a fluoroscope.

At this point, your doctor will remove the guidewire. Then, the doctor will move the tip of the catheter just inside the coronary artery to be examined.

A special dye will be injected into the artery. This allows your doctor to view it better with the fluoroscope.

The dye will make any blockages in the artery stand out. If a significant blockage is found, your doctor will insert a guidewire into the artery.

A balloon on the tip of the catheter will be moved along the wire to the blockage. When the balloon inflates, it will expand the artery and improve the blood flow.

You may feel some chest discomfort while this is happening. After this, your doctor will deflate and remove the balloon.

A wire mesh tube, called a stent, may be placed in the treated area. The stent helps keep the coronary artery open.

Your doctor will choose the proper size stent, which is compressed over a balloon.

The stent will be moved into the artery over the same guidewire.

When the balloon is inflated, the stent will expand and lock into place.

After the balloon catheter is taken out, the stent will stay in place to hold the artery open.

At the end of the procedure, the guidewire will be removed. To find out more about coronary artery angioplasty, talk to your healthcare provider.