Coronary Angioplasty

Coronary angioplasty, sometimes called PTCA or PCI, is a catheter-based procedure performed by an interventional cardiologist in order to open up a blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart muscle. Angioplasty is used as an alternative treatment to coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) about half the time. It is less invasive, less expensive, and faster to perform, with the patient usually returning home the next day. The main disadvantage: 20%-30% of the time, the artery closes up again within six months, a process called restenosis, requiring another procedure. Drug-eluting stents have just become available and may reduce this rate to single digits. Angioplasty is performed on an elective basis to treat coronary artery disease, but is also performed on an emergency basis to treat a heart attack.

Testing and Diagnosis

In a non-emergency situation, the patient typically has sought medical attention for symptoms such as angina. A medical history is taken, assessment of risk factors is made, and a number of non-invasive tests are performed. If a blocked coronary artery is suspected, a thallium stress test usually is performed. If the thallium test does not rule out a blockage, then a cardiac catheterization is scheduled. The "cath" is considered the "gold standard" for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease.

You can find further information here: The American Heart Association Website