What is PTCA?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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More people in North America are killed by coronary artery disease than by any other disease. It is the main cause of premature death. Coronary artery disease is the obstruction or narrowing of the vessels that supply oxygen and blood to the heart. Fatty deposits that build up along the arterial walls cause this narrowing.

If the deposits continue to build up, a noticeable reduction of blood and oxygen to the heart occurs. Once the blood flow has been reduced significantly, medical treatment becomes necessary. Percutanueous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is one of the most common procedures for opening damaged or obstructed coronary arteries.

Percutaneous indicates that the blood vessel is accessed via a needle through the skin. Transluminal means that this procedure is performed through the blood vessel. Coronary is the artery that is being treated. Angioplasty is the reshaping of the blood vessel.

Angioplasty is also referred to as a "balloon treatment." In this procedure, special balloons are used to open up the arteries. The procedure also involves the use of stents to help keep the arteries open. A special catheter is used to insert the stent device. The catheterization procedure and the PTCA can be done at the same time.


Before you can be admitted for a PTCA procedure, you will have to go through a thorough evaluation by your doctor. Food and liquids will be withheld and your groin area will be shaved in preparation for the PTCA. Before the operation, you will be given anesthetic; you should feel drowsy but you will be awake during the operation. You will also receive various medications through an intravenous line.

During the PTCA, an angioplasty catheter is inserted and guided towards the heart by x-ray. The balloon will be inflated when it has reached the blockage area. You may feel some discomfort or pressure, but this is normal and will stop when the balloon is deflated. You may also feel sensations such as heart skips, feeling flushed and maybe headaches. These are also normal and will disappear.

Once the PTCA is over, the catheter or sheath can be removed after four to six hours. During the PTCA, the surgeon will have used blood-thinning agents in order to implant the stent. The catheter cannot be removed until the blood has reverted back to normal. Once the catheter is removed, a pressure bandage will be applied. If there is any discomfort, medication can be taken.

Following a PTCA, it is necessary to have periodic consultations with your doctor. It is important to know that PTCA does not cure coronary artery disease. In some patients, the arteries may narrow again over the next six months. If this happens, original symptoms such as chest pains will reappear. If the prescribed medication does not stop the pain, do not hesitate to consult your physician immediately.


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Post 3

what are the restrictions after having the pcta?

Post 2

@snowywinter: There was a study done to determine side effects of PTCA in 62 patients. 52% of the patients reported side effects 2 weeks after having PTCA. The most frequent side effect was discomfort in the groin site.

79% of the patients said that PTCA made things better and 5% reported that it made things worse. The most common benefit reported from PTCA was the relief of chest pain.

Post 1

What side effects are associated with PTCA?

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