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Coronary angioplasty


Level 1, cardiac catheter suite, Royal Derby Hospital
(best entrance - entrance 9)


If coronary angiography has shown a narrowing in your coronary arteries (arteries in your heart), you may be recommended to have coronary angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty is a specialised treatment used to stretch or unblock narrowed coronary arteries. The aim is to improve blood supply to the heart muscle and reduce symptoms of coronary artery disease (angina).

You will be awake throughout the procedure, although you might be given a pre-medication tablet or injection to help you feel more relaxed.

A fine, flexible, hollow tube called a catheter with a small inflatable balloon at its tip is passed into an artery in either your groin or your arm. X-ray screening is then used to direct the catheter to a coronary artery until its tip reaches the narrowed or blocked section. The balloon is then gently inflated so that it squashes the fatty tissue responsible for the narrowing, which widens the artery.

Many balloons now contain a stent, which is a short tube of stainless steel mesh. As the balloon is inflated, the stent expands so that it holds open the narrowed artery. The balloon is then let down and removed, leaving the stent in place.

There are some special types of stents called ‘drug eluting stents’. These are stents that are coated with a drug which can reduce the inflammation and cell growth that sometimes happens after a stent has been positioned. Drug eluting stents are only suitable for a particular type of narrowing. Your cardiologist will tell you if they are suitable for you.

Using a stent reduces the risk of an artery becoming narrow again after the coronary angioplasty. Once the stents are inserted they are never removed.

When the catheter is removed, pressure will be applied to your groin or wrist to allow the blood vessel to seal. If the test was carried out through your groin, you must lie flat for several hours to avoid the amount of bruising you may get.

Other information

  • You will be advised to have a bath or shower on the morning of the test.
  • You should not have anything to eat, chew or smoke for at least six hours and nothing to drink for at least three hours before the procedure.
  • You will need to bring with you your own towel, dressing gown, slippers, something to read if desired and as few valuables as possible.
  • You must bring with you any medication you are taking in their original containers.
  • Please inform the staff one week before the procedure if you are taking Warfarin, Metformin or Avadamet as these drugs may need to be stopped before the procedure.
  • A gown and pants will be provided for you to wear during the test.