Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Are there other kinds of angioplasty?

        Health | Heart

Your doctor may choose to do other procedures during an angioplasty.

Angioplasty with a stent. In some cases, during an angioplasty the doctor may also insert a special catheter in order to insert one or more fine metallic mesh tubes into the artery. Each tube is called a stent. The stent stays in the blood vessel. It will help prevent the artery from becoming narrow again. There are many reasons why this may be done. One reason it might be done is if there is a high chance the vessel will become clogged again in the near future.

Many patients who have angioplasty also receive at least one stent. Sometimes the decision to place a stent is made ahead of time. Other times, the doctor makes this decision during the procedure. In some cases, doctors insert a stent without performing balloon angioplasty first.

Coronary artery brachytherapy or intracoronary radiotherapy. Some doctors at large research centers use gamma-radiation therapy after angioplasty with stents. The procedure is known as coronary artery brachytherapy or intracoronary radiotherapy. Doctors believe this will help to prevent the arteries from becoming narrow again. There are two ways to do it. The stent itself can be coated with a radioactive material. Or a thin ribbon of radioactive seeds can be placed at the site of the blockage for a short period of time.

Directional atherectomy. During this procedure, the doctor uses a tiny cutting blade inserted through a catheter to shave off and remove slivers of fatty deposits.

Rotational atherectomy. Doctors use this procedure to clear hard, calcified blockages. The doctor inserts a tiny drill called a burr through a catheter. The surface of the burr holds small diamond chips. Then, while watching on a monitor, the doctor uses the drill to break the blockages into microscopic pieces that are washed away by normal blood flow through the artery.

Laser angioplasty. To perform this procedure, the doctor threads a catheter through an artery to your blocked blood vessels. The catheter has a laser at its tip. The laser light vaporizes the plaque.