PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: Dilation of a vessel narrowing (stenosis) with Balloon and Stent
If vessel narrowing (stenosis) leads to blood flow disturbances, the vessel will be dilated with a small balloon and kept open by a vascular support structure (stent).
If the diagnostic examination for coronary heart disease gives reason to suspect circulatory disturbances (ischemia) of the heart, the patient should receive a heart catheterization. If the suspicion proves to be founded, which may require additional techniques such as IVUS (intravascular ultrasound) or Pressure Wire (FFR), a coronary intervention (PCI) will be performed within the same sitting.
Hereby the heart catheter that has been used for the coronary angiography is being exchanged for a so-called guiding catheter. The guiding catheter has an inner lumen (hollow space) that allows to transport another smaller catheter inside, this one mounted with a balloon and stent. In this way the balloon catheter is advanced to the coronary arteries.
Then a very thin guide wire is inserted which is used to pass through the actual stenosis inside the vessel. This takes place under x-ray control. Over this guide wire the empty, folded balloon can be moved forward, and then is being dilated with a pressure gauge and filled with constrast medium. To give long-term support to the vessel usually a vessel support structure – a stent – is being implanted simultaneously. This procedure is termed PCI – Percutaneous Coronary Intervention.