Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is a minimally invasive procedure that is usually performed under local anaesthesia. It is an almost pain-free procedure, and is commonly performed via the artery on your right wrist.
Preparing for a PTCA
To prepare for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, your doctor will review your medical history and may recommend some tests such as a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram and blood tests to ensure you are safe to undergo the procedure.
Your doctor may ask you to stop some medications prior to the procedure (eg. Mmetformin), but it is important to continue your other medications unless advised otherwise. You will need to fast 6 to 8 hours prior to the procedure.
During a PTCA
Local anaesthesia is injected in the groin or wrist to numb the pain of inserting the needle and catheter. When the catheter reaches the opening of the coronary artery, a dye is inserted and an X-ray taken to determine the location of the blockage.
A balloon catheter is then inserted and guided to the blockage. It is then inflated for a few seconds to compress the plaque against the artery walls, then deflated. This process may be repeated several times at each blockage, and again at other blockages.
After the balloon is deflated, a stent may be inserted to reinforce the artery and prevent it from narrowing again.
Finally, a contrast media is injected and another x-ray taken to view the arteries before the catheter is removed.
The duration of these procedures can range from 30 – 60 minutes, though it may take longer if there are complications.
The duration of these procedures can range from 30 – 60 minutes, although it may take longer if there are multiple blockages, complex lesions, or in the event of the unlikely complications.
What to expect after a PTCA?
After a PCTA, recovery time is usually fast. You may need to stay overnight for observation and, if your health permits, you may be able to return to work in a week’s time. While at home, it’s important to drink lots of water to flush out the contrast/dye used during the procedure, and avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for a week.
Risks of a PTCA
Coronary angioplasty is a very safe procedure. However, as with any other surgery, it carries a small risk. In general, the risk of complications is less than 1%, and these include heart attack, stroke, bleeding at access site, or contrast-induced kidney injury. Overall, PTCA is considered to be a safe procedure, with a high success rate and low risk of complications.