What is Angioplasty: Purpose, Existing Types, Risks and Benefits


It is a term that describes a procedure used to widen narrowed vessels by stenosis or occlusion. There are several types of angioplasty. The specific names of these procedures are derived from the type of equipment used and the path to the blood vessel.

If an angioplasty affects the coronary arteries, the entry point could be the femoral artery in the groin, with the catheter system (guidewire passing through the aorta to the heart) and the origin of the coronary arteries, the base of the aorta just outside the aortic valve.


Angioplasty is performed to reopen a partially blocked blood vessel so blood can flow through it at an average rate.

In patients with an occlusive vascular disease, such as atherosclerosis, blood flow to other organs or remote parts of the body is limited by the narrowing of the vessel’s light due to fatty deposits or patches known as plaque.

Once the vessel has been enlarged, an adequate blood flow is restored. The procedure may not be repeated over time in the same place. However, it may be necessary to repeat the procedure. Thrombolytic therapy (treatment with drugs that dissolve blood clots) is an alternative for some patients.

Types of angioplasty

Balloon angioplasty

They use a catheter with a balloon attached, and the doctor inserts it where the coronary arteries branch to the heart. Once the catheter is placed over the obstruction, the interventional cardiologist inflates the tiny balloon.


The pressure causes the artery to be blocked to divide and compress, mold it against the artery wall, and restore blood flow to the plaque. Once the obstruction is removed, the doctor deflates the balloon and removes the catheter.

A stent mesh tube is often placed in the artery during the procedure. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands, supporting the artery’s wall and reducing the chances of the artery becoming blocked again.

Sometimes, a drug-eluting stent releases drugs into the artery and prevents the artery from becoming blocked with the scar tissue.

Laser angioplasty

Some blocks are too long or too complicated for the balloon technique to be effective. In this case, the doctor may choose to use laser angioplasty.

The laser directs a new beam towards the blockage through a catheter in the coronary artery. The cold beam of the laser causes the plaque obstructing to evaporate, changing it to gases and water. Balloon angioplasty can be followed by balloon angioplasty.

Risks of angioplasty

Angioplasty is a very safe procedure, and complications are not frequent. Sometimes, placing a catheter inside an artery can damage it and cause bleeding; even if the artery is not damaged, it can present a purple at the catheter site.

The purple or bulging may cause pain, but this usually disappears in a few days or weeks.

Some patients may become ill due to the injection of iodinated contrast. However, this is common in patients with diabetes, kidney problems, asthma, or previous allergic reactions, to contrast.

Benefits of angioplasty

This procedure can open blocked arteries, restore blood circulation to tissues, and relieve symptoms without surgery. Moreover, most importantly, avoid a heart attack that can cause death in most cases.