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Angioplasty is the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel; typically as a result of atherosclerosis. Tightly folded balloons are passed into the narrowed locations and then inflated to a fixed size using water pressure. 


Once the blockage is located, a second catheter equipped with a tiny balloon is inserted into the artery. When this catheter reaches the blockage, the balloon is inflated to open the artery. The procedure is repeated several times, allowing the balloon to widen the opening and reduce the depth of the blockage.


Finally, the physician inserts a stent into the artery. The stent resembles a tiny metal slinky. Once inserted, it too is expanded to keep the artery from preventing the flow of blood.


Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) or emergent angioplasty is a procedure that is used to open a clogged or blocked artery that is causing chest pain or cardiac distress. This procedure is designed to increase the flow of blood and oxygen through a clogged heart artery without surgery. A physician uses an instrument called a catheter, which is inserted through a small incision made in the groin area and guided into the femoral blood vessel (the artery extending from the heart, down to the leg). A dye is injected into the artery and x-rays are taken to locate the source of the blockage.

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