Coronary Angioplasty: A procedure used to clean out clogged heart arteries. A specially designed balloon catheter with a small balloon tip is guided to the point of narrowing in the artery. Once in place, the balloon is inflated to compress the fatty matter into the artery wall and stretch the artery open to increase blood flow to the heart.
A stent may be placed in the artery after angioplasty. A stent is a tiny, expandable metal coil inserted into the newly opened area to help keep the artery from narrowing or closing again.
A small stainless steel mesh tube, inserted after angioplasty, that acts as a scaffold to provide support inside the coronary artery. Drug-eluting stents are specially coated to release drugs to prevent restenosis (vessel reclogging).
Atherectomy (Directional Coronary Atherectomy or DCA):
This procedure is used to clean out clogged peripheral and heart arteries. The catheter has a hollow cylinder on the tip with an open window on one side and a balloon on the other. When the catheter is inserted into the narrowed artery, the balloon is inflated, pushing the window against the fatty matter that is clogging the vessel. A blade (cutter) within the cylinder rotates and shaves off any fat, which protruded into the window. The shavings are caught in a chamber within the catheter and removed. This process is repeated as needed to allow better blood flow.