Percutaneous coronary intervention

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Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), commonly known as angioplasty, is a non-surgical procedure used to treat the stenotic (narrowed) coronary arteries of the heart found in coronary artery disease.


PCI is used to open clogged heart arteries and improve blood flow to the heart muscle. The procedure is typically performed in a catheterization laboratory (“cath lab”) by a cardiologist.


The procedure involves several key steps:

  • Accessing the Artery: A catheter is inserted through a small incision, usually in the patient’s groin or arm, and guided to the heart.
  • Locating the Blockage: A contrast dye is injected, and X-ray imaging is used to locate the blockage.
  • Clearing the Artery: A balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to compress the plaque against the artery wall. In many cases, a stent is placed to keep the artery open.


PCI is indicated for patients with:

  • Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as angina.
  • Positive stress tests suggestive of coronary artery blockages.
  • Acute coronary syndrome, including heart attacks.

Risks and Complications

While generally safe, PCI carries some risks, such as:

  • Artery damage or kidney damage from the contrast dye.
  • Blood clots or bleeding at the insertion site.
  • Rarely, stroke or heart attack during the procedure.

Post-Procedure Care

After PCI, patients may need to take antiplatelet medications to prevent blood clots within the stent. Lifestyle changes and regular follow-up are also crucial for long-term health.

Technological Advancements

Advancements in PCI include drug-eluting stents, which release medication to prevent the artery from becoming blocked again, and the development of bioresorbable stents.


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