Balloon and Stent Angioplasty

Also known as: Balloon angioplasty, stent angioplasty.

What is angioplasty?

Children born with congenital heart disease (and in some rare cases acquired as a result of other medical problems) can have narrowing of one or multiple vessels (veins or arteries) in the body. Balloon angioplasty is a non-surgical procedure used to restore the flow of blood through blocked or narrow vessels. It is performed using a catheter (a long, thin plastic tube), is less invasive than surgery, and in some instances more effective, such as in vessels that cannot be easily reached by the surgeon.

What happens during the procedure?

A catheter is inserted into the body, usually in the groin area, and is advanced into the affected vein or artery. A balloon attached to the end of the catheter is inflated at the site of the vessel blockage. The balloon expands the narrowed area and restores the blood flow. In some cases a stent is placed across the narrowing to hold it open; this is called stent angioplasty.

Is any special preparation needed?

You/your child will need to stop taking liquids and food, as well as certain medications, the night before the procedure. If you/your child are taking blood-thinners you may be asked to stop taking them a few days before the procedure.

What are the risk factors?

Balloon angioplasty and stent angioplasty are very safe. Potential complications include injury to intracardiac structures, stent dislodgement, and soreness/bruising at the groin site where the vessels were entered in order to do the procedure. In very rare cases, the vessel can sustain significant injury during efforts to enlarge it.


Reviewed by: Lourdes Rosa Prieto, MD

This page was last updated on: 6/18/2018 10:47:07 AM


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The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital provides electrocardiogram (EKG) screenings to children and young adults in the community at no cost. The focus of this program is to create awareness on the importance of pediatric heart screenings in an effort to identify children at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). The use of an electrocardiogram (EKG) is critical to help diagnose asymptomatic heart defects that  may not otherwise be detected in a routine physical. Learn more.