Balloons In Medical Science

I know, the topic sounds so extraneous, but yes it true, today balloons are not only used for celebration or party purpose but they are also being applied in medical sciences for angioplasty.

In medical science, angioplasty is a surgical procedure in which very small balloons are inserted into blocked or partially blocked blood vessels near the heart. Once in place, the balloon can be inflated to clear or compress arterial plaque, and to stretch the walls of the vein. A small stent can be inserted in its place to keep the vessel open after the balloon’s removal. See myocardial infarction.

Balloons are used in the majority of interventional procedures. These devices are inflated to compress the plaque against the artery wall, much like footsteps in the snow, in a procedure known as “angioplasty”, sometimes called “balloon dilatation”, sometimes “PTCA” (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty).

Certain catheters have balloons at their tip to keep them from slipping out, for example the balloon of a Foley catheter is insufflated when the catheter is inserted into the urinary bladder and secures its position.

Angioplasty balloon catheters come in a wide range of lengths and diameters, and are made from a variety of materials, but the major shared characteristic is that the balloon can inflate to a certain diameter and not beyond, thus allowing a predictable opening.

During a balloon angioplasty, patients are usually told not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure. Once you are in the cath lab, once doctors know the exact location of the blockage, they thread what is called a guidewire through the same artery in the leg and advance it across the blockage. Then, the balloon-tipped catheter is slipped over the guidewire and advanced to the blockage.

When this catheter reaches the blockage, the balloon is inflated. As the balloon expands, it presses against the plaque, compressing it against the artery wall. The balloon is then deflated. Doctors may inflate and deflate the balloon a number of times. The catheter, guidewire, and deflated balloon are then removed.

If doctors are placing a stent in the artery, the stent is put at the tip of the catheter, over the balloon. When the catheter is positioned at the blockage, the balloon is inflated, expanding the stent. Once the stent is open, the balloon is deflated. The catheter, guidewire, and deflated balloon are then removed, leaving the stent behind to hold the artery open.

Firm pressure will be applied to the site where the catheter was inserted to stop any bleeding. You will also be bandaged. The whole procedure usually takes about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, and most patients will spend the night in the hospital. You may feel a little sleepy until the sedative has worn off. Nurses will watch you during the night to see that your heart rate and blood pressure are normal.

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