angioplasty (ănˈjēōplăsˌtē) [key], any surgical repair of a blood vessel, especially balloon angioplasty or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, a treatment of coronary artery disease. In balloon angioplasty a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted through the skin into a blood vessel and maneuvered to the clogged portion of the artery. There it is threaded into the blockage and inflated, compressing the plaque against the arterial walls. Frequent postoperative reclogging (restenosis) of the treated area has led to the use of alternative techniques such as laser angioplasty, which employs a laser to burn away or vaporize the plaque, and to the study of various drugs, gene therapies, and mechanical devices such as a stainless steel coil, or stent (most often now coated with a drug that inhibits restenosis), designed to hold the plaque back.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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