Balloon angioplasty of the coronary artery, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a non–surgical procedure that relieves narrowing and obstruction of the arteries to the muscle of the heart (coronary arteries). This allows more blood and oxygen to be delivered to the heart muscle.
PCI is accomplished with a small balloon catheter inserted into an artery in the groin or arm, and advanced to the narrowing in the coronary artery. The balloon is then inflated to enlarge the narrowing in the artery and to set in place a metal stent, which props open the blocked area within the coronary artery. A common type of stent is made of self-expanding, stainless steel mesh. Some stents are drug-coated to prevent further blockage.
When successful, PCI can relieve chest pain of angina, improve the prognosis of patients with unstable angina, and minimize or stop a heart attack without having the patient undergo open heart coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
Angioplasty procedures also are performed on peripheral arteries (arteries other than the heart) to relieve blood flow problems in the legs, arms, kidneys and other areas.