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Coronary angioplasty is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open a blockage in a coronary (heart) artery narrowed by atherosclerosis. This procedure improves blood flow to the heart. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. nhlbi.nih.gov The balloon is then deflated. Sometimes the balloon is inflated and deflated more than once to widen the artery. Afterward, the balloon and tube are removed. When the tube reaches the blockage, the balloon is inflated. The balloon pushes the plaque against the wall of the artery and widens it. This helps to increase the flow of blood to the heart. your doctor slides a tube with a small deflated balloon inside it through the catheter and into the coronary artery where the blockage is. A small amount of dye may be injected through the catheter into the bloodstream to help show the blockage on x ray. This x-ray picture of the heart is called an angiogram. Your doctor puts a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter through the sheath and slides it over the guide wire and up to the heart. Your doctor moves the catheter into the coronary artery to the blockage. He or she takes out the guide wire once the catheter is in the right spot. A small cut is made in your arm or groin into which a tube called a sheath is put. The doctor then threads a very thin guide wire through the artery in your arm or groin toward the area of the coronary artery that's blocked. Stent The balloon is then deflated and pulled out of the artery with the tube. The stent stays in the artery. Your doctor will inflate the balloon, which will cause the stent to expand against the wall of the artery. If your doctor needs to put a stent (small mesh tube) in your artery, another tube with a balloon will be threaded through your artery. A stent is wrapped around the balloon. your doctor pulls back the catheter and removes it and the sheath. LifeART Collection Images Copyright © 1989-2001 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD Coronary Angioplasty