Coronary angioplasty/stenting

Where a narrowing is identified in a coronary artery during a coronary angiogram, the cardiologist may treat the lesion using a stent (fine mesh tube). This is known as Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI), which means ways of opening narrowings in coronary arteries using fine tubes called catheters introduced from the wrist or groin.

Narrowings are treated with balloons and stents that reduce the chance of renarrowing. PCI is also known as angioplasty or stenting.

Before and After Stenting

LCA-diseased LCA-after-stent

The first image shows a narrowing (arrow) in the Left Coronary Artery (LCA) which supplies blood to the left side of the heart. The second image shows the disease area treated with a bioresorbable stent restoring the blood supply to the heart. 

Coronary angiograms and Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) will be carried out in an angiography suite (“catheter lab”) at Intra Epsom or Intra North Shore. Your cardiologist will be assisted by a team of professional nurses and highly skilled medical personnel.

What are the most frequently used stents?

Drug eluting permanent stents are the most frequently inserted stents with excellent results achieved over years. These stents are coated with a medication to prevent or substantially reduce the chance of re-narrowing and the need for repeat treatment.

How should I prepare for my procedure?

Please click here for information about preparing for a coronary angioplasty/stenting procedure (also referred to as a percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI) at Intra.

What will I experience during the procedure?

You will be lightly sedated but awake throughout the procedure. You will feel the local anaesthetic injection into your wrist or groin, then a tiny plastic tube called a catheter is introduced. 

Your cardiologist watches the catheter on an x-ray screen as he/she passes the tip of the catheter to one of the coronary arteries. The contrast that is visible on x-ray imaging is injected into the coronary arteries and video images are recorded on the computer system.

If a narrowing of the artery is suitable for stenting the interventional cardiologist may then insert a stent. This procedure is referred to as Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI).

What happens after my procedure?

You will be taken to the ward for observation and to ensure your recovery is as expected. This includes monitoring vital symptoms, checking the catheter insertion site for bleeding and encouraging you to drink fluids to flush the contrast dye from your kidneys. 

It is likely you will be discharged on the same day unless you are advised otherwise. Before you are discharged your medications will be discussed.

Your cardiologist will discuss the findings with you while you are in hospital or at a follow-up appointment.

Click here for the Angiography/stenting patient procedure booklet.

Can I drive after the procedure?

If you go home on the day of the procedure, please ensure you arrange for someone to drive you home, or accompany you in a taxi. Please also ensure someone stays with you that night.

It is important you do not drive within 24 hours after coronary angiography and for 48 hours after having stenting as the sedation may affect your reaction responses, and there is a risk of bleeding from the entry point (wrist or groin). Please arrange for accompanied transport in advance.

The Land Transport Safety Authority says you should not drive for 48 hours after a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). 

What can I expect when I go home?

After stenting please keep the insertion site clean. It is important to check the catheter insertion site (wrist or groin) regularly for redness, inflammation, signs of infection, haematoma or uncontrolled bleeding.

Once home, please rest for a few days, avoid heavy lifting and any vigorous movement of the affected limb. You can gradually build up your exercise tolerance, so you are back to full activity a week after the procedure.

Please click here for more information.

What are the risks?

Coronary angiography and PCI are straightforward procedures and serious complications such as a heart attack (damage to the heart muscle), infection and strokes are very rare. The cardiologist will discuss the risks with you prior to the procedure. Click here for more information.