You’ve probably heard of angioplasty, a common medical procedure that can open up arteries in your heart and other parts of your body. If you have a blocked or narrowed artery and need to have this procedure, you probably wonder how it works, and what you can expect before, during, and after.\nWhat Is Angioplasty?\nWhen your arteries become blocked or narrowed, blood cannot flow through them easily. Angioplasty, also called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a catheter and balloon to open up blocked arteries and bring back healthy blood flow.\nAngioplasty is often used to treat blocked coronary, or heart, arteries, but it can also be used for blocked arteries in other parts of your body like your neck, arms, legs, and pelvis.\nWhat Should I Expect During an Angioplasty?\nDuring the procedure, you’ll be awake, but you’ll get medicine to help you relax.\nDepending on your condition and medical history, your doctor will choose an artery in your leg or arm to insert the catheter. You may feel some pressure when your doctor puts the catheter in, and the insertion area might be sore afterward. Many people have bruising as well.\nOnce the catheter is inserted, your doctor threads a very thin wire into your artery and places another catheter, with a balloon at its tip, over the wire. Your doctor inflates the balloon, pushing the plaque out of the way and opening your artery to allow your blood to flow better.\nIf necessary, your doctor may inflate the balloon several times. Sometimes, a metal mesh tube called a stent is placed inside your artery to help keep it open.\nYou may need to lie on your back for several hours after the procedure, and your doctor and nurses will check on you often to make sure you don’t have signs of bleeding. Most people stay in the hospital overnight after the procedure.\nBefore you go home, you’ll get information about what to do, what not to do, and when you can get back to your normal activities.\nAre There Risks with Angioplasty?\nAngioplasty is a common procedure that does not usually cause complications, but like any medical procedure, there are some risks. These can include:\n\nBleeding\nDamage to your artery\nAn allergic reaction to the dye\nArrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat\nThe need for an emergency coronary bypass graft, if your artery closes instead of opening\nKidney damage from the dye\nHeart attack\nStroke\n\nTo learn more about angioplasty, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or contact us at 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).