Balloon angioplasty is a procedure used to open narrowed or blocked arteries. It uses a balloon attached to a catheter that's inserted into an artery. At the place where deposits of plaque have closed off or narrowed the channel for blood flow, the balloon is inflated.
If the blockage is not major, it may be possible to correct the problem by inflating the balloon several times. This will compact the plaque against the wall, widening the passage and letting blood flow through.
It's common then, for a tubular device called a stent to be put into the artery. It will act like a scaffold inside the artery and keep the blood vessel open.
Review Date 7/25/2018
Updated by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.