What to Expect from a PCI

Cancer Care | Monday, December 31st, 2012 | No Comments

Your heart health is essential for overall health; a blocked artery may require a PCI.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as coronary angioplasty, is a medical procedure that could save your life. When plaque builds up on artery walls, blood cannot travel through your body as it should. PCI can open your arteries. It's an effective method for dealing with a variety of heart problems and can be used to treat angina or congestive heart failure, to help prevent a heart attack or be used during one to reduce the effects, and may also be used instead of more invasive heart surgery.

What is PCI?

  • percutaneous means “through unbroken skin”
  • catheter is inserted into the artery through small incision
  • catheter may have a balloon around it which can be expanded to push plaque back
  • may have a cutting device to remove buildup
  • can be used to stop a heart attack as it is occurring

What should I expect from PCI?

The insertion point in the groin or arm will be shaved , sanitized, and numbed and you will be awake, but under calming sedation . A needle will be used to pass a wire through the artery to the blockage, and then the catheter tube will be threaded in. The balloon can be inflated and deflated to push back plaque and open the artery as the doctor monitors the procedure through X-ray. A stent (mesh tube) might be inserted to support the artery and keep it open for blood flow. 

Central Florida Cardiac and Vascular Institute offers state of the art medical procedures and treatment, such as Radial Access Approach, where a blocked vessel is unblocked through the wrist versus the groin area.  This allows minimal blood loss and quicker recovery for patients.

Before the procedure:

  • physical exam
  • blood work
  • chest X-ray
  • EKG
  • medications may need to be discontinued
  • arrange for transportation to and from the procedure
  • arrange to have help at home after the procedure


  • 30 minutes to 3 hours in duration
  • mild pain or discomfort where the needle is inserted
  • pressure as the catheter is moved through the body


  • rest
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • possible blood thinning medication
  • ice to relieve lingering pain
  • eat a healthy diet
  • exercise daily 

Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute at Osceola Regional Medical Center is a full service hospital dedicated to your heart health. You can learn more about PCI and coronary angioplasty on our website. If you have any questions or would like a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-800-447-8206.

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