With angioplasty, a balloon is used to create a bigger opening in a blood vessel to increase blood flow. Although angioplasty is performed in other blood vessels elsewhere in the body, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) refers to angioplasty in the coronary arteries to permit more blood flow into the heart. PCI is also called percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA). There are several types of PCI procedures, including:
- Balloon angioplasty - a small balloon is inflated inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area.
- Atherectomy - the blocked area inside the artery is "shaved" away by a tiny device on the end of a catheter.
- Laser angioplasty - a laser used to "vaporize" the blockage in the artery.
- Coronary artery stent - a tiny coil is expanded inside the blocked artery to open the blocked area and is left in place to keep the artery open.