Balloon expansion, or dilatation as it is known in the medical world, is used to widen narrowed blood vessels. This method can be used when implanting a stent, for instance. It is recommended in particular in the case of narrowed, easily accessible coronary arteries. How is balloon dilation carried out, what are the risks, and what kind of aftercare is required? You can find out below..

Is balloon dilatation dangerous?

Balloon dilatation is a minimally invasive intervention; in other words, it is performed by making only a small incision in an artery, either in the groin or at the elbow. In statistical terms, this procedure involves risks in only 2% of cases. Our cardiologists at the Heart Center Leipzig conduct this examination very frequently as a matter of routine. Imaging techniques mean that they can follow each stage of treatment constantly on a monitor. Even if the intervention takes place close to your heart, you should not be concerned - you are in very safe Hands.

  • After a small incision has been made in your groin or elbow joint, a very thin, flexible wire is introduced through a port into the artery and pushed carefully up to the narrowed section of the coronary arteries.
  • Special flair is now required to pierce the narrow area carefully with the wire.
  • Next the balloon catheter is introduced, and inflated when it reaches the constricted area. This causes the arteriosclerotic deposits known as plaque to be flattened. It may be necessary to inflate the balloon several times before the narrowed area has been widened to a satisfactory extent.

If the vessel walls tear during this procedure - as can happen because of the arteriosclerotic plaque - a stent can be inserted. This is a metal mesh tube which provides stability; cf. also stent implantation.

Balloon dilatation is completed in just a single session. Afterwards, the balloon and wire are removed again. Nevertheless, you should rest under observation for a few hours afterwards. Then the port is also removed and a pressure dressing applied.

The positive effect of the intervention is apparent immediately. Unfortunately, a good one in three patients suffer a recurrence of this narrowing, known as restenosis. Follow-up examinations will reveal whether this or other after-effects apply in your case.

About six weeks after the intervention, an ECG and blood count examination should be conducted, even if you feel well. If your coronary arteries remain open after six months, you are unlikely to suffer from restenosis. And if problems do arise: balloon dilation can be performed on multiple occasions.

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At the University Clinic for Cardiology - HELIOS Endowed Chair of the Heart Center Leipzig, we conduct patient-related clinical research and pure research in our molecular biology laboratory. Detailed information about our particular areas of research at the clinic and in the laboratory, as well as an up-to-date overview of the doctoral thesis subjects which are available can be found on our clinic's internal Website.