Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
Sometimes the blood vessels in the heart can be blocked by plaque, a condition known as atherosclerosis. These blockages can restrict the flow of oxygenated blood and nutrients to organs and tissues, cause heart damage or cause an artery wall to rupture which can cause life-threatening internal bleeding. If medication doesn’t work to dissolve the blockages, a minimally invasive procedure called a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as coronary angioplasty, may be recommended.
Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in treating heart problems. We offer a full spectrum of heart care and the latest approaches to treat atherosclerosis, including PCI. Best of all, you’ll appreciate convenient appointment times, locations near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your procedure.
What is a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention?
A percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to place a mesh tube called a stent into a blocked area of an artery in the heart. The procedure opens the artery and the stent keeps the artery open to help blood flow more freely.
What Can a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Accomplish?
If a blockage in a heart artery does not resolve after nonsurgical treatment, a PCI may be recommended to:
- Relieve symptoms including chest pain and pressure
- Prevent heart attack, stroke or an aneurysm
What Can I Expect During the Procedure?
You will be given anesthesia to prevent pain and a sedative to keep you relaxed but awake. The PCI procedure will last about one hour. A small puncture is made in a vein (this should be artery) at your groin. A catheter (a long, thin flexible tube) is carefully threaded into the puncture and through your blood vessel to your heart. Dye will be injected into the catheter to get a clearer picture of any plaque buildup or blockages. Once a buildup or blockage is identified, a wire with a tiny balloon attached is sent through the catheter and into the blockage, where the balloon is inflated. This stretches the artery and pushes the plaque to the side, helping restore blood flow. A mesh tube or stent is then placed in the previously blocked area to ensure the artery stays open. The stent stays in the artery and the catheter and balloon are removed.
Once the catheter is removed, you will be moved to a recovery room, lying flat. Your heartbeat and vital signs will be monitored. You will typically stay overnight in the hospital. Some pain and swelling at the site of the puncture is normal after your procedure. Your physician will let you know when you can return to work and whether you will need to make any modifications to your daily activities and if you will need to take new medication.
Estimated Recovery Timeline
It is common to feel tired for a few days after the PCI procedure. You may need to continue your heart medication for a few months after the procedure or start some new medications to prevent blood clots. It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after your procedure.
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Possible Risks
Any medical procedure carries risks, but percutaneous coronary intervention is typically a safe and effective procedure. You will be given instructions about how to avoid these specific risks, as well as what to do if you experience these issues after your procedure:
- Bleeding where the catheter was inserted
- Blood clots
- Allergic reaction to the dye used during the procedure
Next Steps with MyChart
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