Angioplasty, Atherectomy & Stenting

Angioplasty, atherectomy and stenting are minimally invasive procedures used to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow.


Angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or balloon angioplasty, is used to open arteries that are narrowed or blocked by plaque, a fatty buildup. To perform the procedure, your doctor threads a catheter fitted with a deflated balloon into the arteries of your heart. Once in position, the balloon is inflated to compress the plaque against the artery walls and restore blood flow.

Atherectomy is another procedure used to treat narrowed arteries by removing plaque buildup. To perform the procedure, your doctor uses a catheter fitted with a special cutting device to shave or cut off plaque. The catheter can also be fitted with a special laser that dissolves the blockage.

As part of the angioplasty or atherectomy procedure, your doctor may place a stent — a wire mesh tube — in the artery to hold it open and help prevent another blockage from forming. El Camino Health also offers an alternative stent option, the Absorb GT1, the first-of-its-kind bioresorbable heart stent. The Absorb stent is made of a naturally dissolving material, similar to dissolving sutures. The stent disappears completely within three years after doing its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the area being treated. El Camino Health is the first in the Bay Area to use Absorb.