Angioplasty and Stenting What it’s for Though your heart is full of blood, it also needs a blood supply itself. The blood your heart requires for beating is supplied by vessels called coronary arteries. When your coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits called plaque, your heart no longer gets all the blood it needs. Angioplasty and stenting can be used to reopen your coronary arteries, restoring the blood supply to your heart. How it’s done Angioplasty and stenting may be performed after your cardiologist determines that your coronary arteries are becoming blocked. These procedures may also be performed on emergency basis if you are having a heart attack. You are given medication through an IV to help you relax. Your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen level are monitored throughout the procedure. After you are given a medication to numb the area, a small incision is made in either your thigh, wrist or arm. A thin tube called a sheath is inserted. Then a longer and thinner tube called a catheter is slid into the sheath. With the help of x-ray images to guide the procedure, the catheter is moved through your blood vessels to the site of the blockage. A balloon at the end of the catheter is then inflated, squeezing the fatty deposits against the walls of the blood vessel and widening the artery. Once the balloon is deflated, blood flow to your heart is restored. In most cases, balloon angioplasty is combined with the placement of a stent. A stent is a tiny, wire-mesh tube that is used to hold a blood vessel open. It helps to prevent restenosis, or re-narrowing of your blood vessel. A stent starts out in collapsed form. It is put around the deflated balloon at the end of a catheter, then inserted into a blood vessel and guided toward the blocked artery. When the balloon is inflated, it opens up the stent as it pushes plaque out of the way and widens your artery. When the balloon is deflated, the stent stays in place to keep your artery open. Angioplasty and stenting are also used to open blood vessels in other parts of the body, including the arteries in the neck, legs and kidneys. Risks Your doctor will discuss the risks of these procedures with you. Some of the risks include the following: Infection Allergic reaction to medications Bleeding at site of incision Acute closure of coronary artery Chest pain or angina Kidney failure Heart attack or stroke Blood clots Technology and expertise at URMC The Cardiac Catheterization Lab at URMC is the most advanced lab of its kind in the region. We perform many procedures that are not available at other hospitals. We were also the first in the region to perform procedures such as angioplasty and placing coronary stents. Our doctors are all fellowship trained, the highest level of training available. Many of our surgeons perform a high volume of procedures. A high volume is considered one of the best predictors of an excellent outcome. Instructions for patients Would you like to download the instructions you will need the day of your procedure? Click on the links below. Patient Instructions Download Patient Consent Form Who to contact For more information on angioplasty and stent placement at URMC, please call us at (585) 275-6161. View this topic in our Health Encyclopedia.