Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA)

Why is the doctor performing this procedure?

To open up coronary (heart) arteries that are narrowed or blocked by plaque build-up (atherosclerosis).

What is the procedure?

Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty is commonly called PTCA, or just angioplasty. A catheter is inserted into an artery—usually in the groin—but sometimes in the arm or wrist. The catheter is advanced to the heart, and a series of x-ray pictures (coronary angiogram) are taken to clearly visualize the heart arteries that are narrowed. Then a balloon-tipped catheter is advanced to the heart, and into the narrowed coronary artery. Inside the artery, the balloon is inflated and deflated several times, compressing the plaque against the artery wall and widening the artery so blood flow improves.

X-rays pictures are repeated, and if the artery has been successfully re-opened, the catheters are removed. Pressure is applied to the puncture site (to stop bleeding) while the patient rests quietly.

Where is the procedure performed?

In the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

How long does this procedure take?

PTCA (angioplasty) usually takes 1-2 hours.