An angioplasty is a procedure used to open arteries that are partially or totally blocked by a buildup of fats and cholesterol (plaque) inside an artery. Usually, this procedure is performed during a left heart catheterization or a peripheral arteriogram procedure where a small tube (similar to an IV) is inserted into the artery of the arm or groin. A specialized catheter with a balloon on the tip is then inserted through the IV and is passed to the location of the blocked artery. The balloon is then inflated and opens up the artery re-establishing blood flow.

  • Why you are having this procedure: Your physician might schedule this procedure for symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or leg pain that is felt to be due to a partially blocked artery in your heart or legs. 
  • Prep for the procedure: Do not to eat or drink for 8 to 12 hours prior to the procedure. You will need to make arrangements for someone to drive you home following the procedure.
  • What to expect: Prior to the procedure, you will be given a sedative which will cause drowsiness in order to relax you; however, we will be able to arouse you should it be necessary. The area where the catheter will be inserted is then numbed with a local anesthetic, the catheter is inserted, and the procedure performed. 
  • Risks: Complications from this procedure are rare, and the risk of death is very low. Possible risks include: 
  1. allergic reaction to the dye which can be treated with medicine; 
  2. damage to the kidneys from the dye; 
  3. irregular heart rhythms which can be treated with medicine; 
  4. bleeding can occur at the site where the catheter is inserted; 
  5. although uncommon, blood clots can form around the catheter or clumps of plaque can be knocked loose from the walls of the arteries during the procedure and can trigger a heart attack or a stroke.
  • Post procedure instructions/limitations: Refrain from heavy lifting, greater than 5 pounds, for approximately 1 week after the procedure due to possible bleeding from the site where the catheter was inserted. In order to avoid infection, do not take a tub bath until the site where the catheter was inserted is healed. You can usually return to your normal activities over approximately 1 week.
  • When to call your cardiologist: You should call your cardiologist immediately and/or return to the emergency department immediately if you experience acute onset of chest pain and/or shortness of breath or if you experience rapid swelling or bleeding at the site where the catheter was inserted.
  • Miscellaneous: Please follow all the instructions provided by your healthcare provider. ​